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On the Leven in 1870. 









SITTING in the autumn of 1904 on the knoll which for 
centuries was the churchyard of the Parish of Scoonie, 
but which is to-day spoken of as "The Cemetery," a friend 
whispered in my ear that I might do for Scoonie and 
Wemyss what I had done for Inverkeithing and Culross. 
I then came under promise to try. I have tried, and this 
little book is the result. 

I desire specially to acknowledge my indebtedness to 
the " Memorials of the Family of Wemyss of Wemyss," 
by Sir William Fraser; to Mr B. G. E, Wemyss of Wemyss 
Castle, for the facilities which he gave me to consult old 
documents; to the Rev. A. T. Grant, Chaplain of St Mary, 
Star of the Sea, for the light he cast on seeming difficul- 
ties; and to Mr W. Dalrymple, Leven, for the help he 
gave me in tracing the history of the different Golf Clubs 
passed under review in the book. 

LEVEN, November 1905. 




Baptist Church 54 

Burgh of Leven .... .... 31-38 

Banks and other Buildings 56 

Census Returns 2 

Chief Magistrates 39 

Customs of Other Days - 86 

Education in the Parish 113 

Porman U.F. Church 48 

Fife Coal Company's Works - 122 

Greig Institute - 54 

Gas Company .........85 

Golf Links and Clubs 95 

Harbour of Leven 32 

House of Durie ... 18 

Industries, Old and New, of Burgh and District 60 

Leven, The River - - 57-75 

Montrave 116 

Origin of the Name of Scoonie 1 

Parish Council 82 

Stage Coach and Railway 83 

Scoonie Kirk, from Earliest Times to Present Day - - 3-25 

Scoonie Burial Places 91 

St John's U.F. Church 45 

S. Margaret's Episcopal Church 51 

Situation of Leven - ' 84 

Stone, Jerome 87 

Valuation of Burgh and Parish 81 


Burgh of Buckhaven, Methil, and Innerleven - - 128 

Buckhaven, Town, of - - - - - - 173 

,, Original Inhabitants of 175 

,, Fishing Industry of 179 

,, Net Manufacturing and other Works - - 188 

Harbour of 183 



Caves of Wemyss : - - 189 

Census and Valuation Returns 126 

Ecclesiastical History 190 

Educational History 244 

Innerleven and Dubbieside 129 

History of Church .... 134 

Kirkland Village - - 165 

Macduff Castle - - - 202 

Methil as a Shipping Port ... . 141 

,, as a Burgh of Barony 143 

Dock of To-day 149 

,, First Harbour of - 142 

Coal Working at - - - - - - 144 

Saltpans - - 156 

,, Churches 161 

Methilhill 163 

Muiredge Collieries .... . 154 

Net Manufacturing 188 

Wemyss Castle - - - - 203 

,, Family ... - 264 

,, East, Village of - - 211 

,, West, Village of 233 

,, Colliery 251 

,, Tramways 283 


Scoonie Kirk of 1775 - ----- 17 

Scoonie Kirk of To-day L >;j 

Durie House - - - 18 

Leven Harbour of 1855 - 35 

Mr Andrew Wilkie .... 39 

Mr C. Adamson - 40 

Leven Cross - 41 

Leven St John's U.F. Church 44 

Leven Forman U.F. Church - - . - . . 49 

S. Margaret's Episcopalian Church 52 

Durie Foundry - - - 66 



Leven Oil Mills 68 

Dossie Bay '---68 

Wemyss Sawmills - - - - - - - - - 71 

Millfield Paper Works ------- 72 

Hawkslaw Spinning Mills ------- 78 

The Scoonie Stone -------- 92 

Innerleven and Thistle Golf Clubs ----- 97 

Mr John Adamson - - - 100 

Mr W. Shepherd 101 

Mr J. 0. Shepherd 103 

Mr John Ireland - 105 

Leven Ladies' Golf Club - ... - 108 

Lundin Golf Club House Ill 

Bird's-Eye View of Leven - - 114 

Leven High Street - - - - - - - -114 

Ex-Provost White 116 

Sir John Gilmour 118 

Montrave House - - - - - - - -119 

Mr C. Carlow 124 

Seal of Burgh of Buckhaven ------- 128 

Innerleven ---------- 130 

Methil from Bayview 143 

MethilDock 148 

----- 153 

Buckhaven 174 

Mr Archibald Bowman - - 185 

Denbeath Washer 187 

Court Cave, East Wemyss 201 

Macduff Castle .... - 203 

Wemyss Castle - 209 

East Wemyss Established Church 213 

West Wemyss 235 

Earlseat Mines - - 255 

Mr R. G. E. Wemyss - - - - 281 

Wemyss Tramway Route . - - - 285 







The Parish of Scoonie. 

QCOONIE is one of the smallest parishes in Scotland. 
^ Its extreme length does riot extend four and three- 
quarter miles, and it does not measure more than two 
and three-quarter miles in breadth at any point. On the 
west it is separated from the parish of Wemyss by the 
river Leven. Kennoway, Kettle, and Cults bound it on 
the north, and Largo on the east, and at the north-east 
extremity, as it is neatly put in an old document, the 
"three parishes of Scoouie, Largo, and Ceres, and the 
Presbyteries of Kirkcaldy, St Andrews, and Cupar, meet 
in one point." The now famous Scoonie burn, which makes 
the home green on the Leven Golf Course the most sport- 
ing on the links, takes its rise in Kennoway, and falls into 
the Forth a little to the east of the town of Leven ; while 
the river Leven on the west throws more water into the 
sea than any other river in the " Kingdom." The coast 
is flat and sandy, but amidst swelling knolls and scooped 
out hollows the surface soon rises, and at Kilmux, which 
is situated at the northern fringe of the parish, an altitude 
of six hundred feet is reached. The parish contains-about 
4286 acres. 

The name Scoonie is derived from the Gaelic word 
or fikoen, which signifies a rent or ravine, and if 
visitors to the district will only take the time to go to the 


" Siller Hole " and follow the course of the Scoonie- 
Aitheruie burn for a short distance, they will not fail to 
arrive at the conclusion that the name is an exceedingly 
appropriate one. The population returns made to Dr 
Webster in 1755 brought out a total of 1528 souls, and 
in 1791 the total was 1675, an increase of 147 in thirty- 
eight years.' 

Here is a table giving the Government census of the 
Parish from the earliest possible date to 1901 : 

1801 - - - 1681 1861 - - - 3257 

1811 - - 1726 1871 - - 3178 

1821 2024 1881 - 3730 

1831 2566 1891 - 4693 

1841 - 2836 1901 - - 6342 

1851 - 3115 

Perhaps the most noteworthy feature of these returns is 
the fact that all through they show a steady increase. 
An increase every decade is all the more remarkable when 
it is kept in mind that since 1801 Scoonie, like many 
other small parishes in Scotland, has again and again ex- 
perienced an almost complete collapse of its chief industries, 
and the people have had to adapt themselves to an ever- 
changing order of things. Away back in the distant past 
the fish of the river Leven were a source of considerable 
wealth to the community, and the port of Leven owned a 
little fleet of vessels. The click of the weaver's shuttle 
was at one time heard at every turn in the town, and by 
the river side the perpetual splash of bleaching machinery 
was heard. The trout and salmon have been chased from 
the Leven; the "Maggie "and "Janet" no longer enter 
Leven mouth and the " safe harbour " of other days ; the 
rattle of the beam of the handloom is no longer heard, and 
the pictures of snow-white yarns on the bleaching greens 
are only a dream and a memory. 


Bub other industries have arisen, and most people will 
be inclined to think that it is well they have arisen. Mr 
Geddie, in his charming work, "The Fringes of Fife, 1 ' 
says : " Happily Leven is not dependent on its trade. 
It has a mine of wealth in its links and sands." This looks 
fine on paper. Leven is proud of its links, but it cannot 
afford to ignore its industries. 

Early History of Scoonie Church. 

Historically we have a glimpse of the Church of Scoonis 
long before we find any mention of the lands or the families 
of the district. It [appears from the " Register of the 
Presbytery of St Andrews" that Bishop Tudal or Tuthal- 
dees, who flourished in the first half of the tenth century, 
made a grant of the church of Sconyn to the Culdees of 
Loch Leven. The grant must have been made previous 
to 1050, for it was in that year that Tudal's successor was 
appointed. How long the church existed before 1050 it is 
impossible to say. The Culdees only retained possession of 
the church of Sconyn for about a century. In 1152, when 
the Culdees had fallen from their high estate, Robert, Bishop 
of St Andrews, handed over the Monastery of Loch Leven 
and "its possessions" to the Priory of St Andrews. The 
church of Sconyn was one of the "possessions." In 
Robert's charter Scoonie is mentioned as the "ecclesi- 
astical village of Scouni." Dr Hay Fleming ventures the 
opinion that in 1152 the "village" must have consisted of 
a church and a manse and a few houses, and the chances 
are that he is right. Some time after the transference a 
payment was appointed to be made out of the revenue of 
the church of Scoonie towards the building or the repair- 
ing of the church of St Andrews. It may be interesting 
to state that Duncan, Earl of Fife, seems to have been a 


party to the handing over of the church by Bishop Robert. 
Some time before 1200 he granted a charter to the Priory 
of St Andrews, to which he gave the "church of Scouni, 
and the lands belonging to the same church, with tythes 
and oblations, and with all rights and benefits of all kinds 
belonging to the said church." In 1 243, when Alexander 
III. was King of Scotland, the church was dedicated 
to St Memme by Bishop Bernham. In the old taxation 
roll it is entered as 33 inerks. The Rev. A. M. Grant, 
who made a special study of the history of the parish while 
resident in Leven, computes that there must have been as 
many as twenty to twenty -five vicars in Scoonie between 
1100 and the Reformation of 15(30, and of the number the 
name of only one solitary vicar can be traced namely, 
that of Andrew Sibbald. In these early times the churches 
paid taxes to the Crown and the Pope of Rome, and the 
following comparative statement shows the relative value 
of Scoonie as compared with other churches in the 
district : 

Kennoway - 






Kirkcaldy - 



After the Reformation. 

When the Reformation of 1560 came, the monks were 
driven from the monasteries and the vicars from the 
manses, and a new order of things introduced. Few of 
the people could read, and to this there fell to be added 
the fact thai the apostles of the new faith found it difficult 


to get men who were able to take the pulpits of the different 
parishes. In the hope of meeting the situation as far as 
possible, the Scottish Reformers appointed a temporary 
kind of office-bearers, called Readers, to read the Common 
Prayers and the Scriptures in the churches. Readers 
who had made such progress in the knowledge of the 
Scriptures as to be able to exhort the people were known 
by the name of Exhorters. No young man could become 
a reader until he had reached the age of twenty-one years. 
Although the choice was much restricted, every possible 
care was taken to keep flippant individuals from the ranks 
of the readers, and mediocrity was got rid of by the con- 
ditions attached to the post. It was necessary that the 
reader should be " endued with gravity and discretion," 
lest by his lightness the prayers or Scriptures read should 
be of " lesse price or estimation." If after holding the 
office for two years the reader had not advanced to the 
position of one who could exhort and explain the Scrip- 
tures, he was removed from his office on the plea that 
men who were not, in a reasonable time, " able to edify 
the Kirk" should not be "perpetually sustained upon the 
charge of the Kirk." John Knox founded the parish 
schools of Scotland, where the young were taught to read, 
and if any boy showed a special aptitude for learning he 
was trained for the ministry. The principle was enforced 
its connection with the early teachers and preachers in the 
Reformed Church. The aim was to supply the churches 
with good readers, who should be gradually advanced to 
the position of exhorters, and from that of exhorters to 
the more advanced platform of ministers. Ministers were 
placed in charge of several churches, but they had the 
assistance of readers and exhorters. 


The First Protestant flinister. 

In the stirring times which followed the Reformation, 
I find that the churches of Scoonie and Kennoway were 
grouped under one minister, the Rev. John Symsoun, who, 
up to the date of his being called to the ministry (1566), 
had been schoolmaster of Kennoway. As a minister he 
was located in the parish of Scoonie, and so faithfully did 
he perform the duties of his dual office that in 1574 he was 
also placed in charge of Mcthil and Markinch, a corre- 
sponding increase being made to his stipend. Symsoun 
had under him readers at Kennoway, Methil, and Mark- 
inch. The pastor had a stipend of something like <120, 
while the readers drew something like 13 6s 8d annually. 
In addition to the stipends, they participated in the 
income which came from the kirk lands. 

Symsouu was succeeded in 1580 by Allan Lamonth, a 
native of St Andrews, who was presented to the charge 
by the " Scottish Solomon," James VI. Lamonth's two 
sons. Thomiis and Walter, followed, and then came Robert 
Cranstown, who was translated from Lathrisk, and had 
the honour of being presented by Charles I. Cranstown's 
ministry was not a long one from 1632 to 1643 but 
short as the time was he had a most unfortunate ex- 
perience. While conducting a service in Scoonie church 
in 1641 his manse caught tire, and his clothing arid the 
Session records were destroyed. Details of the incident 
are thus described in an old record : "The minister had 
his chamber in Durie burnt with fyre, which fell out in 
his chamber-chimley in time of sermon, 28th Feb. 1641, 
to his great losse and skaith of many cloathes, buiks, and 
other uair, ;ind among the rest the session buik was in his 
chamber." Cranstown fell on sleep in 1643, in the 54th 
year of his age. 


A Famous Covenanter. 

Cranstown was succeeded by Alex. Moncrieff, who was 
a strict Presbyterian, and who, protesting against Episco- 
pacy and the usurping power of the times, became a leader 
among the Covenanters. Moncrieff was an A.M. of Edin- 
burgh. He was on the list for Kirkcaldy in 1631, but 
missed the prize in the "Lang Toun." When Robert 
Cranstoun departed this life, Moncrieff was one of the 
applicants for the post, and he had the honour of being 
presented by Charles I. in June 1613, and in September 
of the same year he was ordained to the pastorate of 
Scoonie. The year of Moncrieff s ordination was an excit- 
ing year in the history of the churches of the " Kingdom." 
In October the " Solemn League and Covenant " was sub- 
scribed at Dunfermline, and the ancient city gave the key 
note to the other Presbyterian churches in Fife. Before 
Moncrieff had been many weeks in Scoonie he showed that 
his leanings were entirely with the Reformation party. 
When the Church became broken up into factions he took 
the side of the stricter Presbyterians or Protesters, and as 
a Protester he was persecuted almost to the death. Mon- 
crieff was a zealous worker, and had he been allowed to 
toil on in the parish under the flag hoisted by John Knox, 
he would have won golden opinions among the parishioners. 
Lament in his Diary gives us an interesting glimpse at 
Scoonie in the early days of Moricrieff's ministry. Here 
are two extracts : 

"1650. April 21. The communion was given at Sconie in 
Fyfe. Mr Kenneth Logie, min. of Kirke Kaldie, did preach the 
preparation sermon ; his text was Zech. 13, 1. Mr Sa. Ruther- 
foord, min. of St Androus, did preach in the forcnone in Cant. 
5, '2 ; and Mr Alex. Moncriefe, min. there, did preach afternone 
in Prov. 4, 23. Mr Sam. had a lecture on the Moneday following 
on the 20 c. of Mat. Gospell. At this tyme both Durie and his 


lady was debarred from the label because of their malignancic. 
Also at this tyme ther was no collectione fur the poore at the tabel, 
as was ordinar ; this custom was discharged \>y the last Gener. 
Assemb. holdin An. Do. 1649, and therefore in stead of this ther 
was a collection at the church dore, both forenone and afternone." 

" 1651. July 13. The foresaid day the communion was given 
also at Scouie. Mr Alex. Moncriefe. min. ther, did preach the 
preparation sermon. His text was Luc 1, 53 ; and on the Sabath 
in the afternone his text was Luc. 1, 79. In the forenone of the 
Sabath and on Moneday morneing Mr Sa. Rutherfoord did preach; 
his text att both occasions was Luc. 7, 36 till 39 v. All this time 
in Sconie was present, beside Mr Sa. Rutherfoord, Mr Jas. Gutherie 
and Mr David Bennet, Mr Ephraim Melven, and Mr Will. Oliphant, 
m. in Dumfermling. Hither did resort many strangers, so that the 
thronge was great, for Mr Ephraim and Mr Da. Benet both of them 
did sitt within the pulpit whille the minister had his sermon, Mr 
Ephraim on the Sabath and Mr David on the Moneday." 

Here is a notice of a special fast, and of the way in which 
it was observed : 

"1653. August 11 being Thursday ther was a fast keiped 
at Sconie kirke. The day before being Wednesday Mr Alex. 
Moncriefe, min. ther, did preach; his text Ps. 119, 49. On the 
morrow, being the fast-day, ther was thrie sermons two in the 
forenone and one in the afternone. Mr Samuel Rutherfoord, 
minister att St Androus, did preach in the morning ; his lecture 
the 2 chap, of Jonah, his text Revel. 3, att the end of the first 
verse. In the forenone, Mr Alex. Moncriefe; his text Ps. 119, 
49-50. The one came doune from the pulpit and the other went 
up, in the tyme that the psalme, after the first sermon, was singing, 
so that there was no intromission of the exercise, nether were the 
peopell dismissed till both sermons were ended. And in the after- 
none M. Samuell did preach in the same words viz., Rev. 3, 1 ; his 
lecture, Ps. 130 and Ps. 131 ; he did read and expone both." 

Ill these days of short sermons, we are afraid that the 
congregations would not have the patience to wait for the 
one coming "doune" from the pulpit, and the other going 
" up," and if the ministers did not the "people dismiss" 
within a reasonable time, they would be apt either to dis- 


miss or absent themselves from the services. In May 
1654, thanksgiving services were held. Mr Moncrieff had 
the assistance of Rutherford, and services were conducted 
on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. What happened at 
the fast day services in July 1655 shows that Moncrieff 's 
troubles through his being one of the stricter Presbyterians 
of the times and a Protester did not end with the persecu- 
tions which came from without. Lamont is worth quoting 
in full on the terrible scene which took place in Scoonie 
Church : 

"July 22 1655. This fast was keiped by Mr Alex. Moncriefe 
att Sconie ; his text on Saturday, Sunday, all clay, and Moneday 
morning was E Sa., v. 1, 2, 3. This day Mr Alex. Moncriefe did 
chose thrie elders, whereof Mr David Pitcairne was one. This day, 
July 22nd being the Sabbath, was a great contest in words betuixt 
the Lord Durie and the said Mr Alex. Moncriefe anent the chosing 
of elders. All the time of this jangling, which was before the chos- 
ing of the three elders, Mr Alex, was in the pulpitt, and Durie in his 
own seat. James Turpie, Durie's coall-griefe, was first called upon 
that day to be ane elder by the minister, bot he altogither refused, 
notwithstanding that Mr Alex, told him publicklie from the pulpitt 
that he was content to accept the night before ; the minister said 
to him that this could be nothing else bot a suggestion of Satan. 
Durie, publicklie, in the feace of the congregation, discharged 
any that lie had power over, or in his grounde, to accept to 
be ane elder (bot to heare the word reverentlie, and no more). 
Amonge other expressions that Mr Alex, spake to Durie one was 
that he called him an opposer and persecutor of the Church of 
Scotland. (Observe that this was so sharpe and bitter a 
contest betuixt Durie and the minister that the hearers affirmed 
that the like had never beine in that place). Moreover, Durie 
desyred the minister to hold his peace, and the minister desyred 
Durie to hold his peace ; Durie also told that ther would be a 
visitation of that church shortlie, and they would disc-erne which 
of them were in the wrongn. Also, Mr Alex, spake to the Laird of 
Fenges Weyms, a probationer ther ; and this gentleman desyred 
Mr Alex, to goe on and chose the elders, withall telling him that 
the charge of that peopell lay on him, and that he behoved att the 
last day of judgment to be countabell for them. After that Mr 


Alex, did proceid to the chosing of the elders, wha were placed at a 
tabell before the pulpitt." 

After such a scene as is here graphically, if quaintly, 
described, one would think that it would be a difficult 
matter for elders to take their seats "before the pulpitt," 
or for the congregation to compose their minds and attend 
to the " love feast " or communion without feeling that 
the worshippers of Scoonie laid themselves open to the 
rebuke of old "I hear that there be divisions among 
you." The visitation of the congregation by Kirkcaldy 
Presbytery to which Durie referred took place in August. 
The names of the elders were submitted in writing by Mr 
Moncrieff, but nothing worthy of Lament's notice seems to 
have happened. The "jangling " between Moncrieff and 
Durie went on for years, however, Lamont tells us that 
in the Provincial Assembly of Fife, in 1655, "some 
ministers were appointed to speak with Mr Alex. Mon- 
crieff to see if they could settle the business between 
' Durie and Alex.' " Five years after this Durie departed 
this life. As a Protester against the errors of the times 
Moncrieff was right, but he seems to have added to his 
troubles by his want of tact. The scene in Scoonie church 
over the action of Durie is an example of his failure to 
grasp the fitness of things. Another example is provided 
in September of the same year. At a meeting of the 
Provincial Assembly of Fife, at St Andrews, he charged a 
minister who preached the opening sermon with saying 
things that had "given offence to godlie ministers." Mr 
James Wood, the minister challenged, seems to have 
silenced his opponent by telling him that he had not heard 
what, was said, and boldly demanded the name of the 
informer. In 1650, the General Assembly appointed the 
ministers of Scoonie and Largo to attend Charles II. until 


another chaplain was provided for him. Like other 
Covenanters, Moncrieff and Makgill continued to pray for 
the King after he was driven into exile. 

The cause was worthy of the faithfulness displayed by 
the ministers of Largo and Scoonie, but the King was not. 
Woodrow says : 

" Moncrieff was persecuted by the English for his loyalty to the 
King, and his constant praying for him. His house was many 
times searched and rifled by the English, and he was obliged to 
hide. Upon the Sabbath he had spies set upon him, and was 
closely watched where he went after preaching. Frequently he 
was hotly pursued ; and one time a party of horse came after him 
when fleeing, and by a special Providence, though attacked once 
and again by them, by his own fortitude and resolution he got clear 
of them, and escaped at that time. Thereafter in a neighbouring 
congregation he was seized, and imprisoned some time, merely for 
praying for the King." 

In October 1658, he presented to General Monk the 
document known as the "Testimony against Cromwell's 
Toleration." It was signed by himself and seven minis- 
ters. Woodrow says that it "exposed Moncrieff further 
to the extremities of the times." Moncrieff was amongst 
those who met and drew up a petition to the King. On 
his Restoration, in 1660, the King did not know the men 
who had been faithful to him, and Monerieff and others 
were allowed to be seized and cast into prison in Edin 
burgh Castle. The Marquis of Argyle was beheaded in 
May 1661, and on June 1st James Guthrie, Moncrieff's 
fellow prisoner, was executed. Through the intervention 
of friends, Moncrieff was not led to the stake, but he was 
by the Lords of the Articles robbed of all employment, 
ecclesiastical or civic, in the parish of Scoonie for all time 
coming. He was not allowed to come within three miles 
of the parish. By the order of Archbishop Sharp, Mon- 
crieff's place in Scoonie was in August 1662 filled by the 


appointment of John Ramsay, an Angus Episcopalian. 
Lainont tells us that after sermon there was delivered to 
him (Ramsay) "the bibell, the keys of the church doore 
and bell tow ; and Dury was required to be assistant to 
him, which he undertook to do." The other heritors were 
not present. Lament says that when Ramsay was intro- 
duced to the parish, Moncrieff was under process in 

On 16th July 1664, a decree was passed against him 
and others for holding conventicles, arid on the 23rd the 
Magistrates of Perth were appointed to seize him as a 
" noted keeper of conventicles in and about Perth." In 
the hope of exterminating the men of the Moncrieff school, 
the Archbishop had recourse to the punishment of inter- 
communing. When the sentence of intercommuning was 
passed upon any one, even his nearest relatives were pro- 
hibited, under severe penalties, from extending a friendly 
hand to him or ministering in any way to his needs or 
comforts. Sir Walter Scott speaks of the sentence of 
intercommuning as the work of the " Prince of the Power 
of the Air." Poor Moncrieff had this awful sentence pro- 
nounced upon his head. For 27 years he was buffeted 
and driven from place to place, having many hairbreadth 
escapes, and if not beaten with many stripes, he certainly 
had many hardships to endure. On the 6th October 1688, 
in the 75th year of his age, death brought an end to his 
sufferings. His remains found a last resting place in 
Greyfriars Churchyard, Edinburgh. The remains of his 
wife, Ann Murray, were laid by his side. The following 
is a translation of the Latin inscription on the tombstone 
which marks the grave of Moncrieff : 

" Alas ! stay, passc'iiger, mourn and marvel. The friend of (iod, 
Christ's faithful champion, the great ornament of the Church, here 


lies Mr Alexander Moncrieff, of honourable parentage, minister at 
Scoonie for the space of eighteen years, a notable preacher, mighty 
in the Scriptures, not seldom inspired with the spirit of prophecy ; 
full of faith, hope, and charity ; another Barnabas, another 
Boanerges, upright in life and pure from wickedness, keeping fast 
to the Reformed faith, a stout maintainer of the most pure 
discipline ; who, having suffered many things from the ire of 
prelates and fury of malignants, being thrust from his charge, shut 
up in prison. At length being set at freedom, he exercised, 
fulfilled, and adorned the ministry committed to him by the Lord, 
in the worst of times, and by a sweet triumph, drew rebellious 
souls unto Christ. At length, at the dawning of the day of liberty, 
he was removed unto 'heavenly light, 6th October 16S8. Of his 
age, 75. Here also lies his dearest spouse, Ann Murray, who, 
running the course of her life by unfeigned piety, unshaken 
patience, singular prudence, true Christian charity, worshipping 
God, bearing the cross of Christ, managing her lawful affairs, and 
helping the faithful in affliction, surrendered her soul to God 25th 
October 1704. Of her age, 84." 

Other Ministers of the Parish. 

John Ramsay, who succeeded Moncrieff in 1662, was 
only six years in the parish, having been translated to 
Markinch in 1668. George Wood, a native of Crail, came 
next, but his ministry was cut short by his sudden depar- 
ture for England. George Landals, who was translated 
from Kemback in 1680, was the minister for but two 
short years. John Blair, who came from Auchtertool on 
10th May 1682, does not seem to have had a great love 
for their Majesties William and Mary, and had charges 
brought against him of not honouring the Crown-heads in 
the manner prescribed by the Synod. In 1717 he was 
deposed by a committee of Synod. In the same year 
Thomas Melville, a student of the University of Glasgow, 
was called to the parish. He enjoyed more peaceful times 
than some of his predecessors, and lived through a quiet 
and uneventful ministry until October 1763, when through 


the burdens of old age he was compelled to demit his 
charge in favour of David Swan, an assistant, who had 
obtained his degree from the University of St Andrev/s. 
Swan held the position of Clerk to the Synod for a good 
many years, and in 1802 he had the degree of D.D. con- 
ferred upon him by the University and Marischal College, 
Aberdeen. Swan died in October 1812, in his 77th year 
and the 49th year of his ministry. Mr Swan wrote the 
article in the " Old Statistical Account of Scotland," pub- 
lished in 1790. 

George Brewster, a tutor in the Durie family, was the 
next minister. Brewster, who was a man of considerable 
literary ability, was the author of several articles which 
appeared in the "Edinburgh Encyclopaedia," and the 
writer of the "Parish of Scoonie" for the "New Statis- 
tical Account of Scotland" in 1836. He had the degree 
of D.D. conferred upon him by the University of St 
Andrews. Mr Brewster died in 1855, in his 75th year 
and in the 42nd of his ministry. Dr Brewster was suc- 
ceeded by the Rev. D. Brown, who, in 1859, accepted a 
call to a charge in the " Second City " of the Empire. 

The famous Scoonie Case arose over the appointment of 
a successor to Mr Brown. Mr James Black wood was elected 
after a three years' conflict. He was a young man of great 
ability, but to the deep regret of many friends, he was cut 
down at the age of 36 years, and in 1866 the pulpit was 
once more vacant, The Rev. John Duncan, who was a 
D.D. of St Andrews, took up duty for Mr Black wood. 
He died in 1880. And then came the present pastor, the 
Rev. Dr Charles Durward. Dr Durward is a native of 
Aberdeen. He studied at St Andrews, and when he 
accepted an assistantship in Glasgow Cathedral was an 
M.A., B.D. He is Convener of the Board of Examiners 


for the entrance and Sub-Examination of Divinity students 
of St Andrews University, and in 1898 he had the gratifi- 
cation of having the degree of D.D. conferred upon him 
by his alma mater. The manner his services to the Uni- 
versity are appreciated will be apparent when it is stated 
that the Court in 1904 appointed him for a second term 
as Examiner for the Degree of B.D. 

Scoonie Kirk of other Days and To=da\ . 

Away back in far-off days, Scoonie Church stood in the 
little God's acre which now forms the cemetery for the 
parish. In the middle of tjie eighteenth century the 
building was in a very dilapidated state, and in 1760 it 
was reported to be neither wind nor water tight. Money 
was not by any means plentiful, however, and weeks and 
months, and indeed years, passed without any practical 
step being taken to provide a new building. Of the 1550 
people in the parish upwards of 1100 were resident in 
Leven, and an agitation seems to have arisen for the new 
church being built in Leven. The site difficulty tended to 
procrastination, and on June, 12, 1765, the Session met 
and passed the following minute : 

"June 12, 1765. The Session in the next place took into con- 
sideration the many inconveniences to which the parish is subjected 
by their being obliged to desert the church on account of its frail 
condition, and appoint the Moderator to wait upon the residing 
herito7-s without loss of time, and to represent to them the present 
inconveniences the parish labours under, and to request them to 
take the proper steps for removing these inconveniences, and 
further desired the Moderator to report the result to next meeting 
of Session." 

At a meeting of the Session in July 1765, the Moderator 
reported that he had waited upon the heritors, and that 
" they had now the providing of a kirk under considera- 


tion." While the heritors were considering the question, 
the old church in Scoonie churchyard became a complete 
wreck, and in February 1769 we find the Session had 
before them an account for 12 12s, submitted by a joiner 
for " seating the old barn in the north-east end of Leven 
for the accommodation of the parish to hear public 
worship." The barn was occupied for six years, the new 
church in Leven having been opened in July 1775. At 
that time the population of Leven was 1165. The Church 
was seated for 700 hearers, and it is interesting to quote 
Mr Swan's description from the " Old Statistical Account." 
He says: "The Church, a neat and modern building, 
with a spire, was erected 16 years ago, in the immediate 
neighbourhood of Leven, being moi'e convenient for the 
greater part of the parish than the old situation at 
Scoonie. The manse has been inhabited about 15 years." 

In 1822 the heritors were compelled to face an enlarge- 
ment of the church, and the sittings were increased to 
1000. By 1901 it was found that the church had once 
more burst its bounds, and the present church was erected 
on the site of the old building. It is seated for 1210 
people. Mr P. Macgregor Chalmers, Glasgow, was the 
architect. The dedication ceremony took place on Satur- 
day, August 6th, 1904. Since the opening of the church 
several windows have been filled in with stained glass by 
friends who have for years taken a practical interest in 
church life in Scoonie. The new church cost 5200. A 
total of 3600, including .1000 from the heritors of the 
parish, was raised by subscription, and the balance was 
nearly wiped off by a bazaar which was held on the 13th, 
14th, and 15th April 1905. The manse was enlarged and 
repaired in 1S20, and the globe, which was about, twelve 
acres, lias been partly feued. 

Scoonie Kirk, 1775. 



The House of Durie. 

By permission of] 

Durie House. 

[Mr A. Hogg, chemist. 

The Durie Family figures prominently in the early 
records of the parish of Scoonie. As far back as 1260, 
Sir Reginald Cheyne gave a charter of the lands of Durie 
to Gilbert, son of Robert of Strathearn, and grandson of 
Earl Gilbert of Strathearn. This charter was confirmed 
by Adam de Kilconquhar, Earl of Carrick, whose widow 
married Sir Robert de Bruce of Annandale, and to whom 
was born a son who took the name of Robert, and who 
became King Robert the Bruce. From Gilbert, son of 
Robert of Strathearn, the subsequent lairds of Durie were 

The estate of Durie was held by a family of the name 
of Durie from 1310 to 1554, the family terminating in an 


heiress in the latter year. Among the most eminent 
members of the Durie family was George Durie, Arch- 
deacon of St Andrews, perpetual Commendator of Dun- 
fermline Abbey, and the last abbot of the Abbey before 
the Reformation. He was a son of John Dury of Dury, 
and brother to Andrew Dury, abbot of Melrose and 
Galloway. Archbishop Beaton was an uncle of the Dun- 
fermline abbot, and it was with the permission of Beaton 
that lie took the title of abbot or commendator of Dun- 
fermline. On the death of the Archbishop in 1539, King 
James V. homologated Beaton's appointment, and pro- 
moted Durie to the honour and authority of the office. 
Durie was Keeper of the Privy Seal in 1554, and in 1561 
he accompanied the Earl of Eglinton to France for the 
purpose of inducing the widowed and ill-fated Queen Mary 
to return to "dear old Scotland." 

When Patrick Hamilton and Walter Mill were seized 
and sentenced to death by Archbishop Beaton and his 
court at St Andrews, Durie cast his vote against 
the martyrs. There was no end to Durie's zeal for the 
Roman Catholic faith. His cousin, John Durie, was a 
monk at Dunfermline. The monk embraced the Pro- 
testant faith in 1563. So enraged was the Abbot at 
the change of faith on the part of his relative that he 
had him brought to trial for heresy, and sentenced to be 
"built up between two walls" until he died. Through 
the good offices of the Earl of Arran, however, the monk 
was liberated, and he became one of the most uncompro- 
mising opponents of Popery of his time. A biographer 
tells us that he uttered his denunciations " with a mighty 
spirit, voice, and action." He attended the Laird of 
Grange in Edinburgh on the scaffold in 1574, in opposi- 
tion to all the bishops of the land, and in 1581 he was in 


attendance on the Regent Morton at his execution. The 
wily abbot is said to have died a martyr's death, and 
because of the zeal he exhibited against the disciples of 
John Knox he was canonized by the Church of Rome. 

Janet Durie, who succeeded to the estate in 1554, 
married Henry Kemp of Thomastoun, and Kemp took the 
name of Durie. Janet's grandson, Robert Durie, parted 
with the estate in 1614 to -Sir Alex. Gibson, who owned 
the town of Leven, Innerleven, and adjoining properties. 
Thus Sir Alexander's possessions became the barony of 
Durie. Sir Alexander was one of the greatest lawyers of 
his time. In 1627 he became a Lord of Session; in 1628 
he was created a baronet, and in 1642 was raised to the 
high office of Lord President of the Court of Session. 

In his " Border Minstrelsy," Scott tells a curious story 
of the kidnapping of the Lord President. The Earl of 
Traquair, the Lord High Treasurer of the period, had a 
lawsuit of some importance before the Court of Session. 
He assumed that the presiding judge was unfavourable to 
his side, and he employed Christie's Will, one of the 
Border mosstroopers, to kidnap him while taking his 
favourite ride on the sands of Leith. Will, it is said, 
decoyed the President from the sands, seized him, and 
carried him off to an old castle, the Tower of Graham, in 
Annandale. Sir Alexander was " lifted " by his old friend 
Will, after three months' confinement, muffled in the 
cloak used for the abduction, and was set down on Leith 
sands on the spot where he was taken from. Numerous 
versions of the abduction are given ; but, strange to say, 
the so-called " facts " of the writers are irreconcilable, and 
there is a good deal to be said for the deductions of Mr 
A. H. Miller, who, in "Fife: Pictorial and Historical," 
argues that if Sir Alexander Gibson ever was the victim 


of a mosstrooper's abduction it must have been before he 
was a Lord of Session, and certainly before he became 
Laird of Durie, and thus the tradition dwindles down to 
an "aggravated case of assault, robbery, and abduction." 

The Lord President's eldest son was made Lord Clerk 
Register in 1641, and a Senator of the College of Justice 
in 1664. He was deprived of both offices by Cromwell in 
1649. His grandson, Sir Alexander Gibson of Durie, 
died without issue, and the eldest male line of the family 
having thus become extinct, the title and estates devolved 
upon the descendants of Sir John Gibson of Pentland, the 
second son of Sir Alexander the famous President of the 
Court of Session. Sir John Gibson was blind to the 
follies of Charles I., and he accompanied Charles II. at 
the battle of Worcester, where he lost a leg. Durie 
remained in the hands of the Gibson family until 1785, 
when the estate was purchased by James Christie, the 
great-grandfather of Mr 11. Maitland Christie, the present 
proprietor, who succeeded his father in 1896. He repre- 
sents Scoonie in the County Council of Fife, and since the 
'Seventies has taken a great interest in county matters. 
The mansion-house of Durie is pleasantly situated. It was 
built in 1762 by the father of the last Gibson of Durie. 

Scoonie Kirk, 1905. 


The Conflict of 1856-60-61. 

WHAT in the ecclesiastical history of Scotland is known 
as " The Scoonie Kirk Case " was fought out between 
the beginning of 1859 and June 1861. The Rev. D. Brown 
was called to Glasgow in January of the former year, and 
when the vacancy took place, application was made to 
Government, through the Earl of Rosslyn, for power to 
the congregation to choose a minister. A letter was 
received from the Home Secretary granting permission to 
the "chief inhabitants" of the parish to select their future 


minister, reserving a veto to the Crown over the selection. 
A meeting of the male communicants of the congregation 
was held within the church, when the document granting 
permission to select a minister was in effect handed over ; 
and it was resolved to appoint a committee, who were to 
look out two suitable ministers. The names of the two 
were to be submitted to the choice of the male communi- 
cants, the one having the majority of votes to be recom- 
mended to the Home Secretary to receive the presenta- 
tion. By way of providing against discussion, it was also 
agreed that the "minority were to give in to the majority." 
The Committee, in entering upon their labours, had very 
soon a long list of ministers before them. At the very 
first meeting, without any application on his part, the 
name of the Rev. James Black wood, assistant minister in 
the neighbouring parish of Ceres, was placed on the list. 
He had twice preached in the church during the previous 
incumbency, and created a favourable impression. The 
Committee went zealously to work, and after employing 
upwards of two months in hearing, by deputations, various 
ministers, and making enquiry as to others, a list of thirty- 
three was reduced to four, Mr Blackwood being one of the 
four. At this stage a petition was presented from about 
120 members and adherents of the church, praying that 
Mr Blackwood's name be retained as one of the two to be 
submitted to the choice of the male communicants. A 
deputation of four was sent to Ceres to hear Mr Black- 
wood preach, two of whom reported favourably, two un- 
favourably ; but a number of other members of committee 
accompanied the deputation to Ceres, and all of them 
reported favourably of Mr Blackwood. The committee 
now resolved that they would invite all the four candi- 
dates who were on the list to preach before the congre- 


gation. Three consented to do so. At a committee 
meeting held afcer the three had been heard, a member 
made a motion that Mr Blackwood's name be deleted 
from the list, when eleven voted for and fourteen against 
the motion ; whereupon, without further notice, ten of the 
minority silently left the meeting. The majority of the 
committee immediately called a meeting of the congrega- 
tion, and laid a report of their proceedings before them. 
Tue meeting unanimously agreed that the committee 
proceed with their labours, and bring forward the two for 
the choice of the congregation. The committee, after 
again meeting twice, ultimately reduced the list to two. 
when a meeting of the male communicants was held, at 
which were present 210. Two hundred and six voted for 
Mr Blackwood ; three for the other candidate one declin- 
ing to vote the three, in terms of the original resolution, 
giving in to the majority ; whereupon the chairman de- 
clared the Rev. James Blackwood unanimously chosen. 
The committee, in furtherance of the instructions of the 
congregational meeting, immediately forwarded to the Earl 
of Rosslyn a copy of the minute and sederunt of the meet- 
ing, requesting his Lordship to lay the same before the 
Home Secretary, the Committee expressing a hope that 
Mr Blackwood would receive the presentation to the 
vacant charge with all convenient speed. 

The Earl of Ilosslyn, in acknowledging receipt, inti- 
mated to the Committee that he had also received a 
protest from the Kirk-Session and others against the 
selection of Mr Blackwood. The committee and congre- 
gation were astonished at the turn things had taken, and 
immediately corresponded with his Lordship, requesting to 
be furnished with a copy of the protest, and assuring his 
Lordship that everything had been conducted in due form 


and in proper order, and that the peace and welfare of the 
congregation would be promoted by the appointment of 
Mr Blackwood. His Lordship's reply intimated that "he 
had handed all the papers in his possession, recom- 
mendatory or otherwise o* the Rev. James Blackwood, 
into the hands of the Home Secretary, and had declined 
all recommendation of others, as his original recommenda- 
tion that the congregation of Scoonie should select its own 
minister precluded him from taking any other course." 
An interview was next sought and obtained with the 
Lord Advocate, nine members of committee forming the 
deputation. The whole facts of the case were laid before 
him. He requested to be furnished with the communion- 
roll of the church, and the letter of the Home Secretary 
granting the power to the congregation to choose their 
minister : the first was complied with ; but on applying to 
one of the party who had left the committee, in whose 
possession the > Home Secretary's letter had from the first 
remained, it was refused. From the authenticated copy 
of the communion-roll, the total male communicants was 
found to be 266. In addition to the 209 who voted for 
Mr Blackwood, a supplementary list was afterwards ob- 
tained of 25, which was also forwarded to the Lord 
Advocate, of those who were unavoidably absent from the 
meeting of the congregation, but who also approved of the 
choice then made, making 234 in favour of Mr Blackwood. 
There were 12 communicants absent from the parish ; 
there were 1 1 known to have signed the protest against 
Mr Blackwood's selection, thus accounting for all but nine 
of the whole male communicants several of which nine, 
from their residences being in distant parts of the parish, 
made it impossible at the time to ascertain what their 
views were. The Home Secretary was also communicated 


with, and the whole information having reference to the 
matter was laid before him. Testimonials in favour of Mr 
Blackwood were forwarded from almost all the ministers 
in the Presbytery of Cupar. 

After much delay, the committee received a letter 
from the Home Secretary, intimating that in consequence 
of a number of the congregation, including the whole of 
the Kirk-Session, being opposed to Mr Blackwood, he 
would consider it to be his duty himself to appoint a 
gentleman to the incumbency whose ministrations he 
trusted would be acceptable to the entire congregation. 
The committee immediately answered this letter, repre- 
senting to him that deep injury to the congregation would 
be the consequence of such a course. The committee also 
corresponded with Mr Wemyss, the Member for the 
County (who knew the whole facts of the case, from his 
residence being in the neighbourhood), and received an 
answer from him, that if Lord Derby's Government left 
office without making the appointment, the presentation 
would be given to Mr Blackwood. The committee at 
this period applied to the Session to withdraw their opposi- 
tion, and four of the five members stated in writing that 
they would not oppose the settlement of Mr Blackwood, 
should he receive the appointment. This document was 
immediately forwarded to the Home Office : an answer 
wiis received in course, however, stating that the living 
had already been given to the Rev. Wm. Logie, minister 
of the parish of Firth and Stenness, Orkney. 

It was patronage which gave birth to the Relief Church 
and which brought about the Disruption, and it was pat- 
ronage which led to a little Disruption in the parish of 
Scoonie. The announcement of the presentation by the 
Crown to Mr Logie aroused a great amount of indignation in 


the parish, and if his sermons were "cold and formal" when 
he preached in July as presented, there was no want of 
heat in the pews. An uncompromising opposition to Mr 
Logie arose. In the Presbytery of Kirkcaldy Mr Logic's 
claims to the parish were contested at every turn, and at 
a time when it seemed as if nearly the whole parish was 
fighting a few members of the kirk, the Presbytery agreed 
to hear evidence for and against Mr Logie at Kirkcaldy. 
Twenty-one witnesses who appeared for the objectors had 
much the same story to tell. Mr Logic's preaching was 
" cold and formal, without zeal and without animation," 
and his prayers were " without exalted thought and 
animation." The proof for the objectors was closed on 
22nd September, and the Presbytery did not again sit 
until 6th October to hear the case for the objectors. A 
good deal of rowdyism was indulged in for some nights 
after Mr Logie was presented the windows of the houses 
of some of his supporters being smashed in. During the 
interval which elapsed between the hearing of the case for 
the objectors and for the presentee, excitement once more 
reached fever point. One night when Mr Logic's sup- 
porters arrived from Kirkcaldy they were met by a crowd 
at the railway station, and were hooted and pelted with 
stones. After the proof, the Presbytery by a majority of 
1 2 to 3 found against the objectors. The Synod by a 
majority of 14 to 7 affirmed the decision of the Presbytery. 
The case came before the Assembly in May 1860, and by 
a majority of 159 to 85 the deliverances of the Presbytery 
and Synod were reversed and the case of the objectors 
upheld. In July 1860 the congregation met and recom- 
mended that the Crown should present Mr Blackwood. 

A call in favour of Mr Blackwood was read at the 
October meeting of the Presbytery ; but here the sup- 


porters of Mr Logie appeared and objected to Mr Black- 
wood on the plea that his sermons were disfigured by 
"slang phrases." Despite the fact that Mr Blackwood 
received the presentation from the Crown, a second battle 
arose, and was fought out before the Presbytery and the 
Synod. In May 1861 it was stated in the Assembly that 
there were 900 members and adherents for Mr Blackwood 
and only 22 against, and the Assembly practically unani- 
mously set aside the objections and ordained the Presby- 
tery to proceed with the induction of Mr Blackwood. 
The induction was lixed for 28th June. While the 
Presbyterj was met in Scoonie Kirk vestry, the church 
was taken possession of by a great congregation. The 
objectors made a final effort at the Presbytery meeting to 
prevent the induction of Mr Blackwood ; but every 
objection was brushed aside and the two and a half years' 
conflict ended in the induction of the man upon whom the 
congregation had set their minds. It is upwards of 40 
years since the exciting days of the Scoonie Case. With 
the few who are still alive who took part in the conflict 
the wounds of the struggle have long been healed. 

During the battle a great many prints were issued by 
the scribes of the times. Mr H. 13. Farnie, the author of 
"The Fife Coast," issued "A Scoonie Ballad," which had 
an enormous circulation. Here are a few sample verses 
from Farnie : 

Their minds recoiled from the bleak sea-shore, 

And roved to the inland lea 
Where Blackwood he passed a pleasant life 

All under his own fig-tree. 

" Oh, come to us from the bleak sea-shore," 
And, " Oh, come from the woodland scene," 

Thus spoke the twain and never again 
Will be such a breeze, I ween ! 


So the Logie-ites they are the Bond, 
And the Blackwood-ites the Free 

At least, so runs the feeling, and 
It's all the same to me. 

Poor Mr Logie ! he weakened their faith, 
His manner was cold and formal, 

He wanted zeal, and he wanted soul, 
And his sermons were quite abnormal. 

Also, moreover, and added to that, 
His voice it was not modulated, 

And his sermons he read, an enormity which 
His orthodox critics all hated. 


In the Olden Time. 

I EVEN was one of the places on the East Coast which 
*-* was not raised in early times to the dignity of a 
Royal Burgh, and there is an entire absence of the 
valuable Town Council records which are found in the 
charter chests of Grail, Pittenweem, and Anstruther. Only 
at intervals do we come across charters which give us a 
peep at Leven in the olden time. Away back in the dim 
and distant past Leven must have been a hamlet which 
was dependent on the harvests of the Forth and the Leven 
fora subsistence. In a charter dated 1546 it is designated 
Levynnis-mouth. In that year Alexander Gow of the 
Maw made a contribution toward the repairing of Culross 
Abbey and the Monastery in Levynnis-ruouth. In the 
" Scottish Family of Lander " we have a document which 
is dated July 1609 referred to, and from which it appears 
that the town and harbour of Leven then belonged to the 
Archbishopric of St Andrews. Here is the description of 
the document : 

" The charter maid be vmq'e george, Archebishope of St androi's 
to vmqle Mr george Lander of Bass, and his Airs, Off and haile 
the landes of Scony, Monflowrie, Bambeith, thriepland, Leven, 
porte and heavin of Levin, And of the toua and baronie of Levin, 
customes and dewties belanging thairto, Mylnes, Mylnlandes, 
Muttoris, and fischings Oft' the water of Levin, And off the vther 
liberties, priuiledgis, and donatiounis mentionat in the said chartor, 
and disponit to the said Mr george Lander and his aires heretablie.'' 


Lauder of the Bass died in 1613, and in the following 
year his property was acquired by Sir Alexander Gibson. 
At that time the barony of Durie included only Meikle 
and Little Balcurvie and Hauch, but when Sir Alexander 
Gibson purchased the property oE the Lauders, the 
boundaries of the barony were extended so that they 
included Mountfleurie, Banbeath, Thriepland, the town of 
Leven, Innerleveri, and Balgrummo. Subsequent pur- 
chases of smaller estates led to Coldstream, Sillerhole, 
Myresides, Balstressies, and Duniface being also included 
in the barony of Durie. 

It may be interesting to state that David I., the 
youngest son of Malcolm Canmore, was the first ruler 
to draw up laws founded on the usages of towns and 
villages in England and Scotland. During his reign 
each burgh secured the legal right of self-government 
the election of magistrates being placed in the hands of 
the burgesses. The powers of the magistrates ranged 
from whipping to hanging, and the burgh had a complete 
monopoly of the trade of a district. The burgesses of a 
Royal Burgh, for instance, may have been conceded a 
monopoly of the trade of West Fife, and none but bur- 
gesses could buy or sell or manufacture within the pre- 
scribed area. The abbots and the barons soon began to 
get envious of the power of Royal Burghs, and the abbots 
and great lords combined and had the villages which 
sprung up near the cathedrals and abbeys erected into 
burghs. They were designated Burghs of Regality. The 
barons followed up the action of the abbots and had the 
villages near their castles erected into burghs. These 
burghs were called Burghs of Barony. Servants were 
the slaves of their masters in these times. If a stray 
bondsman happened to be found without a master, he 


was allowed fifteen days to find an engagement. At 
the Abbey of Dunfermline, for instance, a register was 
kept containing the pedigrees of slaves on the estate, with 
their marriages, names of the persons whom daughters 
had married, and the tax paid by bondsmen when they 
gave their daughters in marriage, and so deprived the 
abbey of their service. 

The Harbour and Dock. 

In the olden time the farmers of customs in Scotland 
were called Custuraars. As far back as 1435 there is an 
Exchequer entry by the custumars of the Burgh of Lin- 
lithgow for twelve shillings, being the freight of a boat 
containing twenty carcases of salted oxen out of the 
king's larder at Stirling from the harbour of Blackness to 
the Water of Leven. The carcases had been sent by order 
of the king, and it is quite within the bounds of proba- 
bility that they were sent to Leven, being the nearest 
port to Falkland. A boat containing as many as twenty 
carcases of oxen must have been a craft of considerable 
size, and leads one to the inference that in 1435 there 
must have been a small harbour at Levenmouth, and such 
a number of residents as were able to carry on a little 
shipping trade. No other notice of Leven is found until 
1540, when we have the following item in the accounts of 
the Lord High Treasurer : 

" Item, given to Maister Andro Quhytelaw for fraught of ane 
Bote, furth of Leith to Levynnis-mouth with the Selver Wark, 
and for carriage thairof to Saintandrois at the Baptzme of my Loi'd 
Prince, iiij li." 

In 1565, Henry Durie of that Ilk was appointed by 
the Crown "Keeper of the harbour of Lavynns-mouth " 
and the coast in order to stop the enemies of the King 
and Queen. 


Tn 1602, " Levnis-mouth " ranked with the harbours of 
Elie, Sanctmonanis, Westir Wemyss, and Queensferry. 
At a meeting of the Privy Council, held at Dunfermline 
in that year, it was reported that smuggling of contraband 
goods from the Continent was being carried on to an 
enormous extent at many ports in Scotland, and an ordin- 
ance was passed prohibiting owners and masters of vessels 
at many ports on both sides of the Forth from shipping 
or unshipping goods of any kind (coals and salt excepted). 
Levens-mouth was one of the prohibited ports. 

In 1699, there was a barque in Leven called the 
" Isobell," and in November of that year John Lamont 
of Newton sold to John Arnot of Balcormo a fourth-part 
of the ship. On Lamont discharging Arnot for the price, 
Arnot became bound by a deed, dated at St Andrews, 
27th November 1700, to deliver to the former "fortie 
pyncs and ane mutchkin of good and sufficient French 

In the " Old Statistical Account," which was published 
in 1791, the Rev. David Swan, the minister of the parish 
of Scoonie, tells us that " there were six trading vessels of 
from 90 to 140 or 150 tons belonging to the port, em- 
ployed mostly in the Holland and East Sea trade." The 
minister of the parish seems to have been better up in his 
Bible than in harbour work, for he concludes his notes on 
the " village " with a remark to the effect that the head of 
the river affords ''a safe and commodious harbour." The 
harbour was safe enough, but it cannot have been very 
commodious. Somewhere about 1821 a small quay was 
constructed ; the fairway was improved by removing 
boulders, mooring poles or buoys stationed, and the 
channel piled to guard against sand choke. In a com- 
paratively few years the quay was spoken of as "alto- 


gether insufficient for the increasing trade of the port." 
In 1835, Leven had two brigs, carrying 374 tons, which 
were chiefly employed in the American trade. There 
were also five sloops of 188 tons, which were principally 
engaged in the coasting trade. In 1835 as many as 
fifteen fairly large vessels arrived in the harbour with 
cargoes, and in the same year 222 small coasteis were 
unloaded at the inouth of the Leven. A detailed note of 
the imports and exports for 1835 has happily been pre 
served by the Rev. George Brewster. The details are 
interesting, inasmuch as they give us a glimpse at the 
kind of traffic which was done at Leven about seventy 
years ago. Here are Mr Brewster's details : 


Ashes, 556 barrels - - - 4,170 

Bones, 232 tons - - 951 

Wheat, 205 qrs. ... 410 

Barley, 905 qrs. - - 1,244 

Malt, 266 qrs. 638 

Coals, 566 tons 250 

Flax 17,850 

Hemp - - 7,942 

Herrings, 272 tons 272 

Pigiron, 400 tons - 2,200 

Rape cake, 40 tons - 220 

Stones, 1322 tons .... - 220 

Slates, 105 tons 330 

Timber, 6513 tons 6,513 


Bone dust, 500 tons - - 3,1 KM I 

Bricks and tiles - SO 

Linen cloth, !)00 bales - ... 18,000 

Castiron, 215 tons ------ 2,580 

1'i^iron, 30 tons - - - - ISO 

Ochre, 191 tons 573 

Oats, (10 qrs. 60 

Potatoes, 2084 bolls - - - - 780 

\Yhiskv, .'57l> puncheons - - - 15, 040 

Yarn, 440 tons - 20,240 




Mr Brewster says that at spring tides in 1835 the 
harbour admitted " vessels of 300 tons burden, but it is 
rather difficult of access owing to the banks of sand, 
which are frequently shifting by heavy sea storms or 
floods in the river." By 1876 there was a prospect that 
history would repeat itself in the district so far as the 
coal trade was concerned, and the Leven Harbour Com- 
pany was formed for the purpose of getting rid of the 
" banks of sand " complained of by Mr Brewster, and con- 
structing a dock at the mouth <*f the Leven. 

Dixton <fc Son] 


Leven Harbour and Dubbieside Links in 1855. 

The Company expended between 38,000 and 40,000, 
and in November 1879 the "Dahlia," a vessel chartered 
with coals from Newcastle-on-Tyne, for Mr C. Adamson, 
now Provost Adamson, entered the Leven dock. At the 
same time coal had been struck in the Leven pits by the 
Fife Coal Company, and among a section of the community 
there was the feeling that as a shipping port Leven was 


destined to become a place of considerable importance. 
The following table shows the coals shipped from 1880 
to 1887 : 

Tons. Tons. 

1880 19,207 1884 - 42,998 

1881 - 31,028 1885 - 41,117 

1882 - 30,229 1886 - 43,493 

1883 - - 34,116 1887 19,593 

The shifting banks of sand which gave trouble to the 
captains of the small coasters in Mr Brewster's time were 
as troublesome after the dock was opened as before, and 
on the Methil dock scheme being launched by Mr Wemyss 
of Wemyss Castle in 1883, the Leven Harbour Company 
parted with the property, which had cost nearly 40,000, 
for some 12,000, a sum which only enabled the Com- 
pany to meet a debt which had been incurred in connec- 
tion with recent works. The following is a paragraph in 
the " Order of the sale and transfer " of the dock to Mr 
Wemyss : " Henceforth the undertaking shall be main- 
tained, repaired, and kept in proper condition, fit for use 
for all purposes for which the same is capable of being 
used at the time of the passing of the Act confirming the 
Order, and all duties and obligations in reference to the 
undertaking imposed on the Company by the Act of 1876 
or the Order of 1881 shall be performed and observed by 
the said R. G. E. Wemyss, his heirs, assignees, or succes- 
sors, owners for the time being of the undertaking, at his 
or their own expense." In three shore years the value of 
an undertaking which had cost from 38,000 to 10,000 
had fallen to 12,000, and within seven years patronage 
had begun to be drawn from the dock. In the course of 
time Methil dock was acquired by the North British 
Railway Company, and Leven dock went as part of the 


Leven dock was soon entirely dropped out of the view 
of the coal exporter, the loading tips were abandoned, and 
from 1900 to 1904 the gates stood at the " Levynns 
mouth " silted up and immovable, presenting all the 
appearance of the hulk of one of the old coasters which 
visited the port four or five times a year when the Rev. 
David Swan laboured in the parish. Old men hied them- 
selves to the dock now and again and spoke of other days. 
They looked sorrowfully on the fishing boats which lay 
wintering in the harbour, puffed their pipes and peeped 
through their binoculars at the steamers which were 
steaming up the Forth for Methil and Burntisland, and 
which, under different circumstances, might have been 
making for the port of Leven. As the steamers passed 
the old men thought of the many " might have beens " 
which appear and disappear in life's journey, and they 
compared the passing of the shipping trade of Leven to 
the passing of the handloom. In 1903, while the old men 
were sighing over the prospect of Leven being blotted out 
as a shipping port, the Kirkcaldy District Committee of 
Fife County Council, acting on pressure from the people 
of Leven, raised an action against the North British 
Railway Company in Cupar Sheriff Court on the plea that 
the dock was in an insanitary state. The Sheriff-Substi- 
tute and the Sheriff-Principal found that the Committee 
had made out a good case, and asked the Railway Com- 
pany to carry out an improvement scheme. The im- 
provements were not gone on with, and the Kirkcaldy 
District Committee took the matter in their own hands 
in the autumn of 1904, and employed Messrs Sang & 
Lockhart, engineers, Kirkcaldy, to report upon the work. 
The engineers framed a scheme of improvement which in- 
cluded the erection of a cofferdam in front of the silted up 


gate, the removal of mud at the entrance, and the thorough 
overhauling of the caisson. The Railway Company, while 
all this was going on, did not attempt to obtemper the 
Sheriffs decision, and the District Committee placed the 
work in the hands of Messrs J. & J. Farmer and Messrs 
Buchan & Duncan, Methil. The Company kicked, both 
on Leven pier and in the Court of Session, against the 
forward policy of the District Committee ; but in tho 
Court of Session the Company got beaten for their pains, 
and the defeat in Parliament House ended the obstruction 
on Leven pierhead. The contractors erected a cofferdam 
and repaired the dilapidated caisson, and in March 1905 
the gate was in working condition. The North British 
Railway Company followed up the work of the contractors 
by dredging the dock, and for the present at least Leven 
retains the description which in guide books has been 
applied to it from time immemorial nauiely, " a shipping 
port at the mouth of the Leven." 

The Formation of a Police Burgh. 

The Rev. David Swan gives us the following glimpse 
of Leven of 1790: "The only village in the parish is 
Leven, which belongs to the barony of Durie. ... It 
contains 335 families and 1169 inhabitants. The rents 
of houses are from 10s to <S sterling." Writing 46 years 
afterwards, the Rev. Dr Brewster says : " The only town 
in the parish is Leven, with a population of above 2000. 
It consists of two principal streets running parallel to 
each other, with a variety of bye-lanes. Weaving of linen 
is the staple industry of the place, and affords steady em- 
ployment to the inhabitants. A board of police, according 
to the Act of Parliament, has been established here for 
some years, and its labours are chiefly directed to the 



cleaning and lighting of the streets and supplying the 
town with water." Acting on the advice of the late Mr 
Andrew Wilkie, banker, the inhabitants adopted the 

The First Chief /lagistrate. 

General Police Act in 1867. Mr Wilkie was the first 
chief magistrate of the Police Burgh, and he had associ- 
ated with him another eight commissioners. He held office 
for eleven years. He was succeeded by Mr James Ander- 
son of Norton, who was also at the head of affairs for eleven 
years. Mr Alexander Inglis, who held office for one year, 
followed ; Mr John White fulfilled the duties for fourteen 



years, and the present Provost, Mr Christopher Adamson, 
was elected in 1903. Mr A. C. Dewar was elected Town 
Clerk of the burgh in 1890, and continues to hold office. 
The following table shows the years for which the respec- 
tive chief magistrates held office : 

Andrew Wilkie 
James Anderson 
Alexander Inglis - 
John White - 

Christopher Adamson 

April 1869 to April 1878 

April 1878 to Nov. 1888 

Nov. 1888 to Nov. 1889 

Nov. 1889 to Nov. 1903 

/Appointed Nov. 1903 and 

\ continues in office (1905) 

The present Provost. 



In 1755 Leven had a population of 1100 souls, and 
hero is a table showing the population for each decade 
since 1841 : 





In 1860, Farnie, the writer of the "Handbook of the Fife 
Coast," predicted great things for Leven. He says : 
" Perhaps no other town possesses in so great degree the 
elements of future prosperity. For we shall soon find the 
manufacture and trade of the Leven district are very con- 
siderable ; while, on the other hand, its situation is not to 
be surpassed for a watering place." Farnie's predictions 
as to manufactures have scarcely been realised, and Lundin 
Links has come into severe competition with Leven as a 
wateiing place. 

Leven Cross and the Burgh Arms. 

The cross, which stands on a site within the grounds 
of the Greig Institute, bears the following inscription : 


Formerly on Carpenter's Brae ; removed 1767 ; restore*! and re- 
erected by James Anderson of Norton 1889." 

The cross takes the form of a sundial. The dial-making 


period commenced in 1623, and the Leven cross was un- 
doubtedly erected at the top of Carpenter's Brae between 
that year and the year 1700. There is no authentic notice 
of the cross to be found, however, until 1767. Durie 
House was burned down in 1762, and the proprietor, John 
Gibson, took up his abode in a house in High Street. 
Durie died in 1767, and the cross was found to be such an 
obstruction to the funeral procession that the authorities 
of the old burgh of barony ordered its removal. The cross 
of Leven then drops out of sight, and is not again heard of 
until 1889. One day, in the autumn of that year, when 
some masons were engaged in the work of taking down a 
wall at the entrance to a house near the Greig Institute, 
they came upon some marked stories. The stones found 
were pronounced to be part of the seventeenth century 
structure which stood at the top of the Carpenter's Brae. 
Mr James Anderson, who had a great love for the Leven 
of other days, was amongst the residents who examined 
the find, and he at once placed the work of restoring the 
cross in the hands of Messrs Andrew &, A. C. Dewar, 
architects. Messrs Dewar consulted Mr Thomas Ross, 
Edinburgh, the well-known authority on antiquarian sub- 
jects, and he produced a sketch of a dial which stood at 
Kelburn, Ayrshire, which seemed to resemble the Leven 
obelisk cross. The work of reconstruction on the Kelburn 
model was accordingly proceeded with, and in May 1889 
the cross was unveiled with some ceremony. A use was 
made of the cross in the design of the burgh arms. The 
galley in chief of the arms reminds one of the maritime 
nature of the town, and recalls the fact that from time 
immemorial Leven has been a seaport town. The object 
in the base of the arms is a representation of the cross. 
The late Marquis of Bute, in his "Arms of the Baronial 


and Police Burghs of Scotland," writes of the cross as a 
" monument," and says that although it may have been 
an adaptation of, or substitute for, an original cross, it is 
now a sundial of the same class as those found at Drum- 
mond Castle and elsewhere in Scotland. 

The Churches. 

The members of several Praying Societies in Leven, 
Dubbieside, and district met in the spring of 1738 in 
conference in the hope of devising a scheme through which 
they might combine and do more effective work. In May 
of the same year the societies resolved to cast in their lot 
with the Associate Presbytery, and they attached them- 
selves to the Dissenting Church at Abbotshall, and ulti- 
mately joined the Dissenters at Ceres. It is interesting 
to keep in mind that the combined meeting was held at 
Leven or Dubbieside just four and a half short years after 
the ''Four Brethren," headed by Ebenezer Erskine, met 
at Gairney Bridge and constituted themselves a Presbytery 
apart from the judicatories of the Established Church ; 
two years before Ralph Erskine formally united himself 
to the four Dissenting ministers, and five years before 
Ralph Erskine and seven other ministers were deposed 
by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. 
While protesting against patronage and other vagaries in 
the Established Church, the Dissenters of the parish of 
Scoonie did not comport themselves in such a manner as 
to indicate that wisdom would die with them. The Rev. 
David Swan, the minister of the Kirk of Scoonie, writing 
in 1790 of the Dissenters of Scoonie, says : 

" Such as separate from the ^Established Church have little of 
that reserve or moroseness which is the general characteristic of 
separatists of almost all denominations." 




The Dissenters of Leven and Dubbieside met for a 
good many years at Kirkcaldy and Ceres, and ultimately 
at Dubbieside ; but early in the nineteenth century a 
feeling seems to have arisen that an effort might be made 
to open a Dissenting church in Leven. A question was 
raised as to whether an Associate or a Relief Church 
should be opened, and opinion seems to have favoured the 
Relief. So in 1830, seventy -eight years after Thomas 
Gillespie was driven from the Established Church over a 
question of patronage at Inverkeithing, and founded the 


Relief Church, we find the Dissenters of Leven meeting 
with the Relief ministers of Kettle and Dysarfc and re- 
solving to rent the Gardeners' Hall as a temporary place 
of worship. Services were opened in September 1830, and 
in March 1831 a petition was presented by 202 people to 
the Presbytery of Dysart asking regular supply of sermon. 
The following is a copy of the petition : 

Leven, 22nd February 1831. 

To the Rev. the Relief Presbyter\ r , Dysart, to meet at Auchter- 
muchty, on Thursday, the eighth day of March 1831. 
The petition of the undersigned inhabitants of the town 
of Leven and its vicinity 

Humbly sheweth, 

That in consequence of the state of the popula- 
tion as compared with that of the church accommodation and other 
causes, which your petitioners need not enumerate, there has for a 
considerable period been a prevalent wish for the formation of a 
new congregation on Presbyterian principles in the town of Leven. 
Your petitioners have much pleasure in further stating that, in 
obedience to this prevailing wish, they have been favoured with 
the personal services of several members of your revd. Courts, who 
have preached in Leven and conversed with your petitioners from 
time to time, with the services of probationers belonging to the 
Relief body. Your petitioners further beg to state that, approving 
of the distinguishing principles of the Relief as a Presbyterian 
Dissenting body, and encouraged by those members of your revd. 
Courts with whom they have conversed, and whose services they 
have enjoyed, they are desirous of being received under the in- 
spection and superintendence of your revd. Presbytery as a forming 
congregation in connection witli the Relief body. Your petitioners 
may also further state that they are provided at present with a 
large and convenient place for public worship and other accommo- 
dation which may be necessary in the event of their petition being 
granted. They have likewise appointed Messrs Peter Keddie and 
A. Ballingall as commissioners to lay this petition before your revd. 
Court, and to give all proper information respecting their present 
circumstances and future prospects. 


May it therefore please your revd. Court to take this petition 
into your serious consideration, and your petitioners will ever 

Then follow 202 signatures, the name of Alex. Ballingall, 
the preses, taking precedence. In terms of the petition, 
regular supply of sermon was granted, and in 1831-2 a 
Church was built in Viewforth Square, at the back of the 
old salt works. Sittings were provided for as many as 
650 worshippers. Having had the church in Viewforth 
Square opened, and all the organisations of a well-appointed 
church set in motion, the members of the Relief Church 
met in July 1833 and asked the Presbytery for power to 
call a minister. The names of four ministers were sub- 
mitted. Some little division was experienced over the 
choice, but there was a clear majority all through for the 
Rev. James Vallance, of Paisley, and he was ordained to 
the pastorate of the church on 19th February 1834. The 
stipend was .90 a year, and the salary attached to the 
precentorship was '2. Within eleven years of his being 
ordained to the Dissenting charge of Leven, Mr Vallance 
went over to the Established Church, and became minister 
of Tinwald, Dumfriesshire. 

Human nature was very much in 1845 when Mr Val- 
lance resigned what it is to-day. The minority who were 
opposed to his being brought from Paisley to the " King- 
dom " claimed the turn things had taken as a complete 
vindication of their position. Happily any feeling which 
existed was soon got over, however, and all sections of the 
congregation agreed to try to make a call to the second 
minister of the Relief Church a unanimous one. Early in 
the autumn of 1846 a call was given to the Rev. John 
Mitchell, of St Ninians. Mr Mitchell was under call at 
the same time to Annan, but he accepted Leven, and 



was ordained ou 8th September 1846. The union of the 
Secession and the Relief Churches was then being dis- 
cussed throughout the country, and it is interesting to 
note that at the first meeting of the Session over which 
Mr Mitchell presided the "Basis of Union " was discussed 
and unanimously assented to. At the first meeting of the 
Session held after the Union (which took place in 1847) 
they "agreed to record their joy at that event, and to 
implore the Divine blessing on the deed of these two de- 
nominations, and the assistance of the spirit of wisdom 
and peace in all their future deliberations." 

Mr Mitchell went to Kirkintilloch on April 1854, and 
he was succeeded by the Rev. John S. Hyslop, from Urr, 
who was ordained to the charge on 26th June 1855. After 
a long, honoured, and fruitful ministry, Mr Hyslop retired 
from active duty on 17th May 1887. A memorial window 
in the Church bears the following inscription : 

" Erected in loving memory of the Rev. John S. Hyslop by the 
members of this congregation, who desire to acknowledge his long 
and faithful services in the Christian ministry." 

The Rev. John Reid came next ; and then followed 
the Rev. Adam Shaw, who was ordained on 27th January 
1889. In less than four years Mr Shaw accepted a call to 
Glasgow, and on 13th April 1893 the Rev. W. J. Patter- 
son, the present pastor, was ordained to the charge. Mr 
Patterson was educated in Edinburgh, and on leaving the 
Hall took up duty as an assistant in the city of Perth. 
The congregation at the end of 1904 numbered 355. At 
the union witli the Free Church in 1900, the congregation 
took the name of St John's, so that the name of the Rev. 
John Hyslop, who was instrumental in raising a consider- 
able portion of the funds required in connection with the 
church of 1870, might be kept green amongst them. 



This church was one of those which came into existence 
in connection with the Disruption of 1843. The Rev. 
George Brewster, the minister of Scoonie Kirk, inclined 
to the ideas of the Moderates rather than to the policy of 
Dr Chalmers, and he remained in the Establishment. The 
majority of the Session, including the Laird of Duric (Mr 
C. M. Christie), quitted the church, however, and they had 
with them a large following. A site for a church was 
granted by the Laird of Durie, and such was the amount 
of enthusiasm shown that by December 1843 the building, 
which has since been transformed and utilised as the Town 
Hall, was opened. In January 1844 the Rev. Adam 
Forman was called from Innerwick. Mr Forman was one 
of the ministers who left the Establishment, and who, 
lecause he could not find shelter in his old parish, was 
compelled to move to the neighbouring town of Dunbar. 
He preached on the " face of a brae " near Innerwick for 
some months to a numerous flock, and as the cold weather 
came on was driven to a wooden erection. It was while 
conducting services in the wooden building on the "brae 
side " of Innerwick that he received a call to Leven. He 
accepted the call, and toiled long and faithfully in the 
parish. His biographer tells us that he laboured " among 
high and low, among rich and poor, with unceasing earnest- 
ness." He made Home Mission work a special feature, 
and under his ministry the " Salt Girnel " of Methil was 
fitted up as a place of meeting. The Rev. P. MacAinsh 
was one of the missionaries who laboured under Mr Forman 
at Methil. Mr Forman died in 1865. A marble tablet 
erected in the church bears the following inscription : 

"In memory of the Rev. Adam Forman, M.A., minister of 
Innerwick from 1824 to 1843, and of the Free Church, Leven, from 


1844 to March 29th, 1865, when he was suddenly taken to his rest, 
in the 71st year of his age. His high talents and strong affections, 
sanctified and regulated by divine grace, were finely developed, 
both in his public and private ministrations, while his profound 
humility, Christian manliness, and generous sympathy won for 
him the esteem and reverence of his flock and of all who knew 

Mayor] Forman U. F. Church. [Leuen 

As a tribute to his memory, the congregation at the 
Union named the church the Foruian United Free Church. 
Since the Union, the surviving members of his family have 
presented a baptismal font to the congregation in memory 


of their mother. Mr Forman was succeeded by the Rev. 
Donald Fergusson, who came from the pretty village of 
Doune. He had not been a year in Leven when the 
cholera scourge of 1866 broke out. Mr Fergusson was 
unsparing in his labours among the sick and the dying in 
Leven and neighbourhood, and by the older residents of 
the parish and district his work is spoken of to this day 
in language which impresses one with the feeling that he 
must have been as gentle among the sufferers as the 
" nurse who cherisheth her own children." 

Mr Fergusson maintained the traditions of the church 
for Home Mission work, and it was principally through 
his exertions that the Free Church in Buckhaven, now St 
Andrew's TJnited Free Church, was opened. Indifferent 
health compelled Mr Fergusson to retire from active duty 
in 1881, and a colleague and successor was called in the 
person of the Rev. J. J. Mackay, who was very zealous 
and successful in evangelistic and temperance work. Mr 
Mackay was translated to Glasgow in 1884, and he was 
succeeded by the Rev. Hugh Y. Reyburn. Mr Reyburn 
laboured without stint and without ceasing in Mcthil, and 
during his incumbency a separate congregation was formed 
in the now famous East Coast coal shipping port, with the 
Rev. Robert Francis at its head. The history of the Buck- 
haven (St Andrew's) and Methil churches gives the Leven 
Forman Church a title to the name of a " mother of 
churches." Mr Reyburn went to Kirkintilloch in 1893, 
and the Rev. Hugh Elder was then called. Mr Fergusson 
died in 1897. Mr Elder has been a strong advocate of 
the Union all through, and so loyally was he supported by 
the office-bearers and the congregation that the Forman 
Church was at an early stage removed from the list of 
churches claimed by the Free Church officials. 


The church erected in 1843 cost 766 13s 5d, and pro- 
vided sittings for 750 people. As many as 500 sittings 
were let the week before the church was opened. In the 
closing days of the fifties a movement was set on foot for 
a new church, and in 1861 the present building in Durie 
Street was opened, the cost being 3242 18s 6d. In 1900 
the building was renovated at a cost of 572 13s 5d. The 
congregation is happy in having a splendid hall for Sunday 
school and other work. The building was erected by the 
late Mr David Bain, and was fitted and furnished by the 
congregation at a combined cost of nearly 11 00. 


S. Margaret's Church, which is dedicated to the saintly 
Queen of Scotland, had its origin in missionary work 
which was taken up at Lundin Links. The work was 
commenced on 12th March 1861. In December 1862 it 
was agreed to make Leven the headquarters of the mission, 
and on Christmas day of that year the work was taken up 
in the Gardeners' Hall, Murray Place. The work flourished 
to such an extent that ultimately the Rev. W. Prosser was 
appointed Rector. Mr Prosser laboured in the district 
until May 1870, and then came the Rev. W. E. Hall, 
whose first work in Leven was the Christmas service of 
1870, and who remained in the district until 1876. The 
mission was erected into an incumbency, with Mr Hall as 
incumbent, on September 15th 1872. Mr Hall was suc- 
ceeded by the Rev. J. Thomson, who took up work on 
March llth, 1877, and who held the post until September 

S. Margaret's Church was erected during Mr Thom- 
son's incumbency. The church, which was a handsome 
addition to the ecclesiastical architecture of the burgh, 



was consecrated by Bishop Wordsworth in August 1881. 
The building, which was erected from plans prepared by 
Messrs Matthews ct Mackenzie, Aberdeen, cost 1700. 
This total does not include the belfry-tower, which was a 
gift of Sir Henry Gibson Carmichael of Skirling. Sir 
Henry wrote to the Vestry recalling the feeling of affection 
which his late father had had for the " home of his child- 
hood, Durie." "Wishing that " the family connections with 

J. Patrick] 

S. Margaret's Episcopal Church. 


the parish of Scoonie should not bo forgotten," Sir Henry 
asked that he should be allowed to erect a belfry-tower to 
the church, "as a memorial of his ancestors, the Gibsons 
of Durie." He suggested that the tower might be called 
" The Gibson-Carmichael Tower." The offer was accepted, 
the tower was built, and for all time coming it will be 
known as the " Gibson-Carmichael Tower of S. Margaret's 


Church." The Rev. A. Thomson Grant succeeded Mr 
Thomson in September 1886. Mr Grant is well known 
throughout Scotland as an authority on antiquarian sub- 
jects, and before long we hope to see him give the results 
of his bibliographical studies to the reading public. Mr Grant 
went to Wemyss Castle in 1900, and was succeeded by the 
present incumbent, the Rev. James W. Harper. Mr 
Harper is a native of Aberdeen. He graduated M.A. 
with honours at the University of the Granite City. A 
rector}' and a church-room have been erected since the 
church was opened, and all the buildings are nicely 

Some of the stones used in building the church came 
from Burntisland. The Rev. George Hay Forbes, a son 
of Lord Medwyn, and a brother of Bishop Forbes, of 
Brechin, for many years incumbent of the Episcopalian 
Church at Burntisland, began to build a church at his own 
expense. He could only allow a certain sum annually 
towards the cost of the fabric, and at his death in 1875 
the walls were only a few feet high. But a baptistry had 
been completed in which he celebrated holy communion. 
A friend informs the writer that on a visit paid to Mr 
Forbes forby years ago, one mason and a labourer were 
employed on the fabric, and the latter acted as coachman 
when Mr Forbes took a drive. It would have taken half 
a century to finish the church. After Mr Forbes' death, 
the North British Railway Company, requiring more- 
ground, bought the rood on which the church was building, 
and the congregation at Leven secured the stories for S. 
Margaret's Clmreh. Mr Forbes was one of the most 
learned men in the Episcopal Church, and had a printing 
press (the Pitsligo Press), from which he issued a number 
of learned works. 



Leven Baptist congregation was formed in 1893. The 
Rev. Alexander Pigott was the first pastor, and it was 
chiefly through his exertions that the iron church was 
erected in Forth Street. He laboured in Leven until 
1900, when he was transferred to the city of Dundee. Mr 
Pigott is a great lover of books of historical interest, and 
has rendered a distinct service to the county. He has a 
splendid collection of Fife books, and we hope to see the 
day when some bibliographist will acquire by purchase 
his collection bearing on Fife and hand the works over 
to some library in the "Kingdom." On 31st March 1901 
the Rev. John Dickie was ordained to the Leven charge. 
Mr Dickie is a native of Kelso, and studied in London. 
The building in which the congregation numbering about 
200 worships is a temporary one, being constructed of 
iron, and the congregation look forward to the day when 
they will be able to face the cost of a permanent 

The Qreig Institute. 

The Greig Institute, which stands in the centre of a 
plot of ground off Forth Street, was formally opened on 
14th July 1874. The history of the Institute is easily told. 
In 1871 the old United Presbyterian Church, which was in 
Viewforth Square, came into the market, and at a meeting 
of several public - spirited gentlemen, including Messrs 
Andrew Wilkie, D. Nicoll, James Anderson, J. H. Smith, 
and Dr Lyall, it was agreed to acquire the building and to 
set it aside for the public as a "People's Institute." Mr 
Thomas Greig of Glencarse, Perthshire, who was a son of 
Mr Thomas Greig, of Leven, whose remains lie in Scoonie 


cemetery, was among the gentlemen approached for a sub- 
scription towards the purchase price and the cost of recon- 
structing the old church as an Institute. Mr Greig was 
enamoured with the idea of providing a building for re- 
creation and educative purposes. He thought, however, 
that the gentlemen at the head of the movement might do 
better than to fit up the old church. He had two gardens 
in Leven, and if the committee cared he would hand over 
the ground as a gift to the community, and would contri- 
bute 500 towards the cost of a new building. The idea 
was taken up with great heartiness, the old church was 
resold, and the building, which is known as the Greig 
Institute, erected at a cost of 2000. The following 
inscription, which is above the main entrance to the 
building, gives the history of the movement in a nut- 
shell : 

" The Greig Institute, Leven. Foundation stone laid on 18th 
July 1872, by Thomas Greig, Esq. Institute formally opened on 
14th July 1874. Cost of building 2000. Architect, Andrew 
Heiton, of Perth. Principal promoters Thomas Greig, Esq. of 
Gleiicarse, 1000 and the site ; Captain Christie of Durie, 225 ; 
Alex. Balfour of Mount Alyn, Cheshire, 350, of which 100 was 
applied to the library. 

In the reading-room there is an excellent painting in 
oil of Mr Greig, who was born in 1801 and died in 1884. 
The Institute has been a blessing to the burgh of Leven. 
The community is partly industrial, and for years at least 
one room of the Institute has been utilised for technical 
education classes, with results which have been extremely 
satisfactory. The Rev. George Brewster, writing in 1836, 
tells us that a subscription library, with about 650 volumes 
in circulation, had been in operation for many years, while 
there was a juvenile collection of books connected with the 


Sunday School. There was also a Mechanics' Institution, 
with a respectable library belonging to it. The books 
have been brought together in the Greig Institute, and in 
the building the people of Leven have now a library of 
which they are justly proud. Through the kindness of 
Mr James Coates, jun., of Paisley, many new volumes 
were added to the library in the spring of 1905. 

The Banks and some other Buildings. 

There are branches of the Royal, the National, the 
Commercial, and the British Linen Banks in Leven, the 
businesses being conducted in spacious buildings. Within 
the past half century great changes have been made in the 
shops, externally and internally. Artists and antiquarians 
who delight in red roofs and crow-stepped gables may sigh 
over the disappearance of old architectural links with the 
past, but most people will be inclined to think that the 
shops and the dwellings of the modern street are more com- 
fortable for doing business in or for residing in than the 
low-roofed structures of the olden time. There are three 
hotels in the burgh namely the Caledonian in High 
Street and Mitchell Street, the Star in North Street, and 
the Station Temperance at the railway station. There are 
some delightful villas on the links. One of the oldest and 
certainly one of the most interesting pieces of old Leven 
which is to clay intact, and which is the delight of anti- 
quarian visitors, is undoubtedly the property in High 
Street which belongs to the representatives of the late Mi- 
Thomas Porter, and which is occupied by Mr Gourlay, 
bookseller. With its red roof and its crown-stepped gables 
the property makes a picturesque corner. In the days 
when Leven was a small village it was a striking building; 
it remains a quaint piece of architecture still. 


The Bridging of the Leven. 

In 1790 there was no bridge across the Leven nearer 
than Cameron, quite two miles up the water, and the Rev. 
David Swan, writing in that year under the heading 
" Disadvantages," thus points out the inconveniences ex- 
perienced : 

"It is a considerable inconvenience to this parish that there is 
no bridge upon the Leven nearer than Cameron. But there are 
two good fords in the neighbourhood, always passable except in 
high floods, or for an hour or two at high water during springtides, 
and near the town there is also a coble or boat for passengers. It 
is likewise a very great inconvenience, not only to the parish but 
to travellers in general, that there is no bridge over Scoonie river 
upon the great turnpike road to the east coast. The water is often 
engorged with such banks of ice upon each side that there is no 
passage for carriages, but with manifest danger. Though in sum- 
mer it is almost dry, yet the water sometimes rises to such a height 
as not to be fordable with safety. Some years ago a farmer and his 
wife attempting to cross on horseback were carried a considerable 
way down the stream ; the woman not less than 400 or 500 yards. 
Had they not been seen and opportunely seized by the people in 
the neighbourhood, both of them must inevitably have perished. 
It is to be hoped, for the credit of the gentlemen of the district, 
that this inconveniency will soon be remedied." 

Despite the dangers of a roaring river in spates, and 
the " inconveniency,'' as Mr Swan puts it, to the general 
public, the "gentlemen of the district" did not see fit to 
take the hint to connect the parishes of Scoonie and 
Wernyss by a bridge, and the eighteenth century was 
allowed to pass into history to leave the people with no 
other alternative but to wade through the ford where the 
sawmills now stand, cross at Dubbieside ferry, or hie them- 
selves to the Bassmill Bridge at Cameron, a structure 
which was erected by Earl David of Wemyss in 1665 "for 
the greater sale of his Methil coal." The ferry belonged 
to the Durie family, and was for many years farmed out 


to a boatman for a yearly rental. Passengers were taken 
across the river in a coble from Dossie Bay to Dubbieside 
for one halfpenny one penny return. The Kirkcaldy road 
was in a wretched condition, and at each side of the river 
at the ford horses and vehicles and cattle often stood in 
great numbers waiting until the tide had ebbed sufficiently 
to admit of a passage. In spates the fording of the river 
was extremely dangerous, and the mail coaches went daily 
to Kirkcaldy by Windygates. In 1821, a joint stock 
company leased the ferry from Durie and erected a suspen- 
sion bridge across the river, from Dossie Bay to Dubbie- 
side, for foot passengers. The bridge cost .500, and 
the capital was raised in shares of 10s 6d each. On the 
opening of the structure the ferryman, Davie Finlay, and 
his coble were dispensed with, and the Company paid a 
dividend on the capital expenditure by exacting a modest 
halfpenny from each person who crossed. The pontage in 
1835 was .85. The foot bridge was of no use for 
vehicular traffic, and writing in 1836 the Rev. Dr 
Brewster says : 

" The want of a carriage bridge over the river at the town of 
Leven has been much felt. This much desired improvement, how- 
ever, is in contemplation, and it is hoped will soon be carried into 

Just three years after Dr Brewster had thus written of 
the river difficulties, a few public-spirited gentlemen sub- 
scribed the necessary funds, and obtained an Act of 
Parliament incorporating them as a Road and Bridge 
Trust, for the purpose of building a stone bridge over the 
Leven and improving the wretched statute-labour road to 
Kirkcaldy. The present stone bridge was built in 1840, 
and the parishes of Scoonie and Weiuyss were linked 
together. With the opening of the stone bridge, the 


suspension bridge, like the ferry boat, was withdrawn, and 
the old ford, where on many a wild night exciting scenes 
had taken place, was discarded and soon became as little 
known to the drivers of vehicles as the river Leven is 
to-day to the salmon which annually hie themselves up the 
silvery Forth. The people of the forties were proud of 
their new bridge, and from the day of opening until the 
abolition of the tolls on the public highways they cheer- 
fully paid the halfpenny fee exacted for crossing. Although 
since 1870, when the Act expired, the traffic of all kinds 
has been conducted over the bridge without let or hindrance 
and without the enforcing of any fee, the epithet of the 
"Bawbee Brig" still clings to the structure. A painting of 
Davie Finlay, who was in turn the ferryman from Dossie 
Bay to Dubbieside, the toll-keeper at the suspension bridge, 
and a water carrier in Leven, is preserved in the Greig 
Institute. The portrait bears that it was procured from 
Win. Anderson on 22nd Dec. 1851, and on the back there 
is a placard which announces the launching of Davie's 
coble boat thus : 

"The new boat belonging to Davie Finlay, Esq., is to be 
launched from the building yard of Mr Wm. Suttie on Saturday 
first at four o'clock. The attendance of the public is respectfully 
invited to witness the exhibition, as it is the first of the kind in 
this part of the count}'. It is requested that those who have flags 
should display them that day for the sake of Davie." 

The portrait in the Greig Institute shows Davie in the 
garb of a water carrier. 


Old and New Industries. 

In 1546, when "Levynnis mouth" first bursts into view 
historically, Leven was undoubtedly only a small fishing 
hamlet. As time wore on, the fishings of the mouth of 
the Leven arid Largo Bay grew in importance, and the 
fishing communities of Leven and district were added to. 
Leven followed up Methil and other places on the coast 
in the establishment of the coal works and salt works, 
which, with their smoking chimneys, led James VI., who 
was proud of his wise sayings, to compare the county of 
Fife to "A beggar's mantle with a fringe of gold." Leven 
people found that they could not live by fishing and coal 
and salt alone, and then came the advents of the hand- 
loom linen industry and spinning. As the click of the 
shuttle became weaker and weaker, the rattle of the 
spinning machinery became stronger, and spinning is with 
us to this day, while the handloom is only a dream and a 


The Kirk -Session records, dating back to the middle of 
the seventeenth century, throw some light on the fishing 
industry. The Session were compelled to watch the river 
on the Sundays for " Sabbath breakers," as well as the 
streets of Leven for "stravagers" who failed to attend 
divine service. It is recorded that in October 1645, three 
men and a woman were brought before the Session on a 
charge of killing "salmond" on a Sunday night. Threa- 
tened with excommunication, they were forced to confess 
their guilt, the male offenders being mulcted in substantial 
fines, and ordained to own their fault in front of the pulpit 
in the face of the whole congregation, while the female 



delinquent, in respect of her extreme youth, was allowed 
to go with a public confession. The Rev. David Swan, 
minister of the parish, writing in 1790, says that the 
catches of salmon at the mouth of the river were heavy, 
and the greater part of the fish caught were conveyed over 
land to Newburgh and Perth, and from there shipped to 
the London market. 

The salmon fishing at the mouth of the Leven then 
belonged to the estate of Durie. The river was not con- 
taminated as it is at present, and the trout fishing from 
Leven to Thornton was very valuable. In the beginning 
of the nineteenth century works were springing up on the 
hanks of the river from Leven all the way to Kinross, and 
the salmon soon began to desert their favourite haunts. 
Rankine, in his book of poems published in 1812, thus 
sings the praises of the Leven : 

I grind the corn, I saw the wood, 

And of my mighty power 
At Durie and Balgonie proud 

I melt the sullen ore. 

I bleach the Hnen fair and clean 

To pure angelic hue. 
And from earth's centre far, unseen, 

1 raise the pit-coal too. 

I spin the flax, whose canvas proud 

Britannia's thunder spreads, 
Confirms her empire o'er the flood, 

Or wafts where glory leads. 

After this joyous lilt, Rankine goes on to say 

Late, at my confluence with the Firth, 

The stately salmon play'd ; 
But now they're fled their native birth, 

Of ruthless B 11 afraid. 


In a footnote he tells us that the " salmon have of late 
deserted the river through the avarice of the fishers." 
The angler may have had something to do with the reduc- 
tion in the number of fish ; but most people will be in- 
clined to think that the real reason of the sudden scarcity 
of fish in 1812 is to be found in the fact that the river 
was doing duty at many public works and was beginning 
to send down the poisonous matter which ultimately drove 
salmon and trout from the long stretch of water from 
Leslie to the Leven mouth. 


Before the Union of the Parliaments of England and 
Scotland in 1707, Leven was renowned for its salt pans 
and for the enterprise exhibited in connection with the 
malt industry, and in 1790 there were as many as six 
brewers of the nappie ales which formed the favourite 
beverage of the times. Messrs J. & G. Brown are now 
the only links we have with the malt and brewing industry 
of the past. On the shore, on the very site where the 
salters of old toiled, Mr Robert Gerrett to day carries on 
a salt work with great enterprise. The chimney stalk of 
Mr Gerrett's works stands on the site of the old "bucket 
pat," which formed the sea water storage pond of the 
works of other days ; and who among the older inhabi- 
tants of Leven does not remember of the demolition of the 
unpicturesque old windmill tower, which had stood for 
centuries on the shore, and which had formed the driving 
power for the pump by which the sea water was drawn to 
the "pat?" In the Admiralty charts of the olden times 
the windmill figured as one of the prominent landmarks 
of the " village " of Leven. The row of red-roofed little 
houses where the salters, who were practically slaves, lived 


has, like the windmill, vanished away. When the salt 

Itax was withdrawn, salt came into Scotland from the 
Continent and England, and the windmills soon began to 
be stopped. In many parts of the country the trade re- 
ceived its coup de grace when the salt mines of Cheshire 
were discovered. What was the history of works generally 
in Scotland was the record of the old salt pans of Leven. 

"Mr Swan, in 1790, does not mention the works in the 
" Old Statistical Account " under the heading of " Com- 
merce "; and Mr Brewster, who wrote in 1836, does not give 
salt a place among his " Manufactures." This means that 
under the changes which followed the abolition of the tax 
and the English discoveries of rock salt, the windmill of 
Leven ceased to whirl, as it had done in other places, and 
the "bucket pat/' was raised to the dignity of a " fairie 
pond " or a sheet of water in which boys sailed their tiny 
boats when the tides were " far, far back on the Leven 
sands." In 1857, after the works had stood for many years, 
Mr Alexander Clark arrived in Leven from Prestonpans, 
and he revived the old industry of salt making. Mr Clark 
was succeeded by his relative, Mr Gerrett, and Mr Gerrett 
has completely transformed the works. What makes salt- 
making possible in Scotland nowadays is the free use of 
rock-salt, and " Poute," the poet of Coup-my-Horn, was 
not even taking the usual poet's licence when, thirty years 
ago, he wrote that Mr Gerrett 

. . . Makes saut wi' steam 
And now can grind as much within an hour 
As they could do before in twenty -four. 


In the Acts of the old Parliament of Scotland, we are 
told that in 1672 Gibson of Durie received the sanction of 


Parliament to hold two fairs yearly in the burgh of barony 
of Leven. In 1701 three fairs were held 22nd January, 
23rd April, and 17th June and permission was granted 
to hold a fourth on the 19th July, and a weekly market. 
Swan tells us that in 1790 there was "a fair in the spring 
for lintseed, and one every month from May to October 
for white linen." The markets of the olden time were not 
the markets of recent years, which people who have only 
seen from forty to fifty summers are apt to associate with 
gingerbread and pink and gold paper packages of the 
" sweeties " which took the name of mixtures. In connec- 
tion witli the old markets, the main streets of the market 
town for a parish or district were taken possession of by 
merchants who displayed all kinds of goods on the stands 
which they erected. Over the fords of Scoonie and the 
Leven "gentle and simple" nocked in great numbers to 
Leven, and from the stands on the streets they purchased 
their summer and winter articles of clothing. At these 
markets the manufacturers of linen and the bootmakers 
had no difficulty in disposing of their wares. Writing in 
1790, for instance, Mr Swan tells us that there were 140 
looms at work in Scoonie parish, and ' the manufacturers 
have the benefit of a ready-money market for their cloth 
as soon as cut from the loom without travelling 100 yards 
from their own doors." 

How happy the manufacturers of 1790 must have been. 
It must have been a pleasant operation to cut a cloth from 
the loom, carry it to a stand in the High Street or North 
Street, and thus dispose of it without the aid of the whole- 
sale or retail dealer. As Mr Swan notes, in 1790 there 
were something like 140 looms in the parish, and they had 
not increased much by 1835. There were only 148 males 
and 22 females employed in connection with the industry; 


but competition for the local trade had become keener, and 
tbe weavers of Leven wei-e compelled to seek markets 
outside tbe parish. That they nursed the " foreign " trade 
with a fair amount of success is apparent from the fact 
that 900 bales of linen goods were shipped in 1835. In 
1845 the shipment of linen had become less, and earl} 7 in 
the 'fifties, when steam power had been introduced in 
factories at Dunfermline, Dundee, and other towns, the 
totals fell off considerably. To-day there is not a single 
handloom in operation in Scoonie parish. 


Originally the site now occupied by Durie Foundry 
was taken up by a bleachwork. In the " Scots Magazine " 
for February 1743, the following occupies a prominent 
place among the advertisements : 

" William Hunter, bleacher at Leven, in the shire of Fife, 
proposes to lay down cloth by the first of March, if the weather 
permits. Cloth for this field is taken in by George Lothian, 
merchant, at his shop, second door above the Old Bank Close., 
Lawn Market, Edinburgh; by Mrs Johnston, at her shop, opposite 
to the head of the Broadwynd, Leith ; by James Haigie, merchant 
in Kirkcaldy ; and at the Bleachfield. At all which places receipts 
will be given. The prices of bleaching are as follows, viz. : All 
plain linen, wrought in a reed under a twelve hundred, at three- 
pence halfpenny ; twelve and thirteen at four-pence ; from thirteen 
and not exceeding fourteen at four-pence half-penny ; from fourteen 
and not exceeding fifteen at five-pence ; from fifteen and not ex- 
ceeding sixteen at five-pence half-penny ; and all above at six-pence 
per yard, yard broad or under ; cambric and diaper at four-pence. 
It is desired that the owner's name should be sewed on one end of 
each piece, and the number of yards on the other, with linen- 

In 1790 eighteen hands were employed at the bleach- 
work. The work seems to have been converted into an 
iron foundry, chiefly for local and agricultural require- 



ments, about the year 1808, or perhaps a little earlier. 
The central rail of a small iron bridge made at the works, 
and which the company have in their possession, has the 
date 1810 cast on it. The foundry then was a small 
concern, and belonged to a man of the name of Russell. 
The works passed through his hands into those of a small 
trading company, and a few years afterwards they were 
purchased by the founders of the present company, Mr 



Durie Foundry. 

Henry Balfour, son of a Provost of Dundee, and Mr James 
Anderson. The manufactures from that time, and for 
about twenty-five years, embraced cast-iron stoves and 
boilers, water pipes, &c., for which the market was chiefly 
Canada. The articles of manufacture were made in con- 
siderable quantities during the winter months, and were 


shipped in the spring and summer months from Leven 
harbour by the "Urania," and other sailing vessels belong- 
ing to Leven, to Quebec and other ports. 

The founders were succeeded by their respective sons, 
Mr Henry T. Balfour, Mr Robert Balfour, and Mr James 
Anderson. Marked as the success had been under the 
founders, it became even more marked in the hands of the 
younger men. Mr Henry T. Balfour opened a London 
agency, and in the city he formed a strong business con- 
nection. For many years Mr Anderson of Norton con- 
tinued an active member of the firm in Leven. Mr Creeke 
joined the business in 1884, which has since been formed 
into a limited liability company, with an agency in London, 
under the title of Henry Balfour & Co., Limited. The 
first directors were Mr T. C. Balfour of Carberry (chair- 
man) ; Mr John Cowan, Edinburgh; Mr F. T. Wallace; 
Mr Archibald Bowman; Mr John Balfour (who also acts 
as secretary); and Mr Creeke. Owing to the death of two 
members, the directorate has undergone some changes, 
and Mr William Shepherd now occupies a place on the 
board. The number of men employed in 1835 was 48. 
This has risen to about 240, and the firm is now chiefly 
engaged in the manufacture of gasworks apparatus, steel 
structures, roofing, and contractors' plant, with a speciality 
in concrete mixers. These latter machines are now in use 
on many Government works, and on such important con- 
tracts as the new docks and fortifications now being con- 
structed at Hong Kong, Malta, Gibraltar, Cape of Good 
Hope, and Plymouth. The firm is at present represented 
in London by Mr Henry Puplett. Henry Balfour & Co. 
have long had a splendid reputation at the collieries in 
Fife for turning out machinery of the best type. 



An industry of some kind has been carried on at Leveii 
Mills by the side of the Leven for Centuries. The dwelling 
house which forms part of the group of buildings is one of 
the oldest and internally one of the most interesting build- 
inds in Leven. The works are at present in the hands of 
John Balfour & Co., and in the spacious old premises oil 



Leven Oil Hills and the Old Bridge (1875). 

cake apparatus and a bone mill are in operation. The 
works have been in the hands of the Balfour family since 
1813. It was in 1813 that Mr Alexander Balfour erected 
sawmill apparatus for dealing with home timber, his 
brother, Mr David Balfour, at the same time removing 
his bone mill from Startup to Leven Mills, where they 


conjointly carried on these businesses, having at that date 
secured a ninety-nine years' lease of the property. Even- 
tually they transferred their interests to their brother, Mr 
William Balfour, who had for many years successfully 
carried on the farms of Nether Pratis and Bankhead.' 

Mr William Balfour did not himself engage in business, 
but put his son, Mr John Balfour, into the trades then 
existing, and erected a spinning mill for' his son-in-law, 
Mr Andrew Inglis, about 1838. These businesses were 
carried on quite independently. Mr Andrew Inglis even- 
tually retired from spinning, and Mr John Balfour con- 
verted the mill into a linseed crushing mill about 1848. 
Mr John Balfour died in 1866, and the business fell into 
the hands of Mr James Balfour and Mr Alexander Inglis. 
Mr James Balfour retired in 1870, and he was succeeded 
by Mr John Balfour and Mr Alexander Inglis, until, in 
1896, the latter retired and Mr John Balfour became sole 
partner. A feu-charter was granted by Mr Christie in 
1898, and the place is now on feu. The oil purification 
department is extremely interesting, and the same falls to 
be said of the working of the apparatus by which oilcake 
is turned out read}' for the market. A turbine wheel of 
70 horse-power provides tho motive power for the linseed 
works. Bailie Balfour is proud of his turbine, "and so well 
he may," is the conclusion the visitor is driven to as he 
notes how sweetly the motor works. 


In the " Old Statistical Account " we are told that 
" there is a considerable roperie established at Leven and 
a good number of shoemakers are constantly employed." 
The "knights of St Crispin " as they were known in 1790 
are no more. The old fairs, with their stands of boots, 


are things of the past. With but short breaks, rope- 
making has been carried on since 1790. Nearly forty 
years ago Poute sang of '" Sunny Leven, where Matthew " 
(Mr Matthew Elder) "spins his ropes." Mr Matthew 
Elder was succeeded by his son, James Elder, who carried 
on the business in the old roperie in School Lane until 
1893. The Millfield Works, which are situated near the 
railway station, were started by James Robertson in 1877. 
Mr Robertson died in 1887, and was succeeded by his son, 
who makes a speciality of packing cords for paper and 
linen manufacturers. 


Messrs Alexander Bruce & Company's creosote works 
are one of the most recent additions to the industries of 
Leven. Business men are compelled in these days of fierce 
competition to specialise. Messrs Bruce & Company con- 
fine themselves to railway sleepers and telegraph and tele- 
phone poles, and such a hold have they of the market that 
the Leven depot enjoys the unique position of being the 
only telegraph pole depot in Scotland. It is only eighteen 
years since the company started in Methil. Crushed out 
of Methil by the dock extension scheme, the company 
leased four acres of ground for works and storage to the 
west of Leven railway station. The company now occupy 
nine and a half acres. The poles are imported from Norway, 
and the wood for the sleepers from Russia. The company 
have works at Troon, Grimsby, and London. Mr T. E. 
Wilson is the manager of the Leven works, and a better 
representative the company could not have. 


In 1887 Messrs James Donaldson <fc Sons, of Tayport, 
came to the banks of the Leven and founded what is now 



one of the largest woodyards in the country, giving em- 
ployment to as many as seventy-five hands and occupying 
about five acres. The firm are large importers of wood 
from America and the Baltic. An idea of the business 
carried on by the firm will be obtained when it is stated 
that the cargoes of forty vessels were taken in at Methil 
Dock in 1904. The works are fitted up with machinery 



Wemyss Sawmills. 

of the latest type, and in the course of a year the mould- 
ings and finishings turned out for house work are enor- 
mous. The firm has a big connection with the collieries 
throughout Scotland, making a speciality of the heavy 
timber used nowadays for colliery work. The partners of 
the firm are Mr James and Mr George Donaldson. The 



latter resides at Leven, and occupies a delightful house in 
Links Road, while the former superintends the Tayport 


Messrs Grosset & Company have been happy in their 
choice of a site for a paper work. The Kennoway burn 
takes its rise among the Lomond hills, and in summer and 



nillfield Paper Works. 

winter the dam in front of the works is filled with delight- 
fully pure water. The firm procured the site in 1880, and 
in a comparatively short time they had a well-appointed 
work in operation. A steadily increasing trade has neces- 
sitated considerable additions to the works, and now some- 
thing like three acres of ground are covered by well- 
arranged buildings. The firm have concentrated their 


efforts on machine glazed biscuit caps and envelope papers, 
and the quality of the papers turned out has been such 
that they have been able to open up a large connection 
throughout the country. There are two machines of 84 
inches each, and the motive power is supplied by six steam 
engines of 400 (combined) horse-power. There are three 
large sheds set aside for preparing the raw material, and 
the three boilers in the boiling house each hold 25 cwts. of 
rags. The machinery is the best in the market, and steam 
and water power are employed. The paper - making 
machines are each capable of producing from fifteen to 
twenty tons a week. The works are under the immediate 
supervision of Mr Grosset, the founder of the firm, and his 
son, Mr Philip Grosset. Undoubtedly much of the success 
is due to the admirable supervision given by the partners, 
and in the counting house they have able assistance from 
Mr William Grosset. 


The writer of the article on Scoonie in the <; Old Statis- 
tical Account " says : 

"There are very extensive seams of coal in the estate of Durie, 
which have been wrought for upwards of a century. One seam is 
of excellent quality, and used to be exported from Leven to Hol- 
land, where it met with a more ready sale than most of the other 
coals carried from this part of the country. This seam, so far as it 
could be drained by the present water engine, is now exhausted. 
The seams now working are of inferior quality, but answer for 
land sale, and furnish fuel for two or three salt pans, which are 
very productive." 

The water engine here referred to by Mr Swan was 
erected on a shaft at Durie Broom, to the east of " Siller 
Hole." The motive power for the huge pump was not 
drawn from steam but from water, and it was really 
wonderful the amount of enterprise which was exhibited 


in connection with the driving power. On an old map of 
Durie estate, which is preserved by Mr Christie to this 
day, two considerable sheets of water are noted the lochs 
of Banbeath and of Durie. The mining engineers of the 
olden time hit upon the idea of driving a mine through 
the ridge which forms the " tail of the craig " of the Maiden 
Castle at Kennoway Burns, and cutting a water channel 
from the mine to Durie Broom. By this engineering feat 
Kennoway Burn was tapped, the lochs drained, and an 
abundant supply of water procured to drive the water 
wheel at the pit. 

The Durie Broom, or the " Engine Pit," as it was called, 
was sunk to a lower level than the " Sauchbush " and 
many other small pits which were opened on Durie estate, 
and from which coals were gotten for many years for the 
trade which was opened up between the port of Leven and 
Holland. The machinery of the olden time ultimately 
became overpowered with water, and for some years coal 
working was abandoned on the estate. The return of the 
exports and imports at Leven harbour for 1835 shows, for 
instance, that 577 tons of coal were imported during the 
year, but there was no coal exported. In 1854, however, 
a firm, headed by Mr D. Landale, took a lease of the Durie 
minerals, and sunk the " Burn Pit " near Scoonie Cemetery, 
and an air shaft immediately to the north of the " Siller 
Hole." Lying as it does in a hollow between the Leven 
and the Aithernie dykes, the area operated upon was a big 
trough of water, and the expenditure for pumping was so 
great that the company found it difficult in hard times to 
get a margin of profit. Abandonment came within a few 
years, and the minerals immediately to the north of Leven 
were allowed to lie undisturbed until 1893, when the Fife 
Coal Company took a lease of the field and sunk two 


shafts on the rising ground between the Scoonie and Silver 
burns. Three workable seams of coal were found the 
Eight Feet at 80 fathoms in depth, the Six Feet at 87 
fathoms, and the Chemiss Splint at 100 fathoms. To 
keep the pits dry the company had as much as 1600 
gallons of water a minute to pump. The blaes imme- 
diately overlying the coal were soft, and occasionally 
blanks were found in the Chemiss splint seam. Opera- 
tions were suspended in January 1903, and the great 
puffing pits of a decade ago are, like the u Sauchbush " 
and the " Durie Broom " shafts, abandoned, and the redd 
bings and gaping holes are alone left to recall the activity 
and the work of other days. 

The dyke which divides the Durie minerals into two 
fields runs in a north-westerly direction, considerably to 
the south of Durie House. The section lying to the north 
of this dyke will doubtless be tapped some day, and 
history, as it has often done before, will repeat itself in 
Durie mineral fields. The southern section, operated upon 
by the old miners of Scoonie and the miners who worked 
to the Fife Coal Company, are flooded by a great sheet of 
water ; but it is believed that the dyke which divides this 
section from the north section will be a sufficient barrier 
to keep back the water from any workings which may be 
carried on in connection with the development of the 
minerals to the north of Durie House. The Fife Coal 
Company commenced operations at their Leven Colliery 
on the top of Kinarchie Braes in 1877, but as the colliery 
is in Wemyss parish, details in connection with the work 
are given in another chapter. Suffice it to say that the 
Leven and Durie fields are divided by a dyke, so that the 
Leven Colliery is protected from the water by which the 
Durie workings have been flooded. 


It may be interesting to state that the Dysart Main 
Coal, which is the principal seam operated upon in Wemyss 
and Markincli parishes, was not found by the Fife Coal 
Company in the Durie pits, and as the upper seams get 
thinner as we go east, it is argued by practical men that 
the famous seam will not be found along the sandy beach 
which lies between the Durie pits and Largo. The chances 
are that the many mines which in the olden time were 
driven into the slopes along which the railway now runs 
worked only the crops of the upper coal seams, and the 
ironstone which is met with in patches at certain points 
in the district. 


A considerable portion of Leven was built from bricks 
manufactured at Leven brick and tile works, by the side 
of Scoonie Road. For nearly half a century the works 
were carried on by Mr Alexander White and his son, Mr 
John White, an ex-Provost of the Burgh, under the firm 
name of John White & Son. Operations were stopped at 
the works in 1880. In addition to manufacturing bricks 
and tiles, Messrs White & Son did a considerable business 
in the ochre trade, one of the oldest industries in Leven. 
Mr Brewster in the "New Statistical Account" says : 

"About the year 1802 a bore was put down near Scoonie bridge 
which reached the bottom of the main coal, or a depth of 53 
fathoms. This bore, besides the upper seams of coal, passed 
through a stratum of ochre upwards of four feet thick, and three 
seams of fire clay, two of which are of the finest quality. A bed of 
ochre four feet thick, lying on the estates of Durie and Aithernie, 
has been- wrought for several years, of which a considerable 
quantity is exported." 

The Messrs Landale had a considerable output of ochre 
at their " Siller Hole " pit, and away further up the den in 
the Aithernie direction Mr John Anderson operated on 


the same seam of ochre with an " in-going-eye." On the 
ochre being drawn from the mines it was conveyed to 
Messrs White's and Mr Anderson's works and there it was 
treated by grinding mills and exported in ships from the 
harbour to all parts of the country. In 1835, 191 tons of 
ochre, representing a value of 573, were exported from 
Leven. At one time a considerable business was done in 
red " keel " from Kennoway Den. The " keel " was used 
principally for marking sheep, and the Leven ochre will 
remind older people of the days when the " buts and the 
bens" of the working classes were annually painted l>y 
artistic matrons with an "orange" or a "canary" tint. 


The Hawkslaw Spinning Mills belong to The Boase 
Spinning Company, Limited. The work is by far the 
largest in the burgh of Leven indeed, it is the largest 
spinning work in Fife and gives employment to upwards 
of 600 hands. The spinning industry has for a long series 
of years been carried on at Leven. In 1835 there were as 
many as five mills in Leven for spinning flax and tow. 
The five works gave employment, to 254 hands, and they 
represented a combined capital of 15,000. In the fierce 
competition which arose in the closing days of the sixties 
and the seventies, through foreign competition, the pro- 
prietors of many of the smaller mills in the " Kingdom " 
were compelled to suspend operations. Leven was hit like 
other places, and the profits became so small that the 
proprietors in some instances were compelled to shut down 
their works. At Hawkslaw Mills the manufacture of 
fishing nets was carried on as well as spinning, and the 
double industry gave the proprietors an advantage which 
enabled them always to employ a fair number of hands. 



In the early sixties the work belonged to A. Boswall & 
Coy., Mr Alex. Boswall, who died in 1867, being the 
principal partner. Messrs Henry and Robert Small 
succeeded Mr Boswall, and shortly after they had acquired 
the business they were joined by Mr W. L. Boase, of 
Dundee, and the advent of Mr Boase brought about a 
change in the trading name A. Boswall & Company 
giving place to Small <fe Boase. On the death of Mr 


Hawkslaw Spinning Works. 


Henry Small, Mr Robert Small retired from the firm, and 
Mr Boase was joined by his cousin, Mr Edward Boase, 
who had had a military training. Mr Edward Boase died 
in June 1878, and previous to his death Mr Shaun was 
assumed as a partner. In July 1886 a limited liability 
company was formed in connection with Hawkslaw Works, 
the name taken being the Boase Spinning Company. In 


1892 the manufacturing business carried on by Messrs 
W. L. Boase & Company, in Dundee, was amalgamated 
with the Leven business, and the two concerns have since 
then been carried on by the limited liability company. 
Mr W. L. Boase is the General Manager and Chairman of 
the Company, and on the board of directors he has 
associated with him his four sons namely, Messrs E. 
Leslie Boase, G. H. Lindsay Boase, W. Norman Boase, 
and P. Meldrum Boase, and Mr T. Murdoch. Mr George 
Craig, who is resident in Leven, is secretary of the Company. 

Despite the depression which has been experienced in 
connection with the spinning trade throughout Scotland 
during the past 35 years, because of foreign competition, 
the record at the Hawkslaw Works has been one of unin- 
terrupted progress. The Chairman of the Company has 
been fully alive to the ever-changing conditions of the 
industry, and as the time came for dropping ends of the 
trade which were no longer practicable, new departments 
were introduced with most satisfactory results. 

At one time a large business was done in fishing nets 
and lines made from Russian hemp, but as time went on 
the finer fibered Italian hemp was introduced and other 
ends of the trade taken up, and now flax bulks largely in 
the Company's business, very large contracts for Govern- 
ment and for railway companies being undertaken 
annually. In every department the mill is well appointed. 
At one time the heckling was carried on at Millfield, the 
site of the paper works, but in course of time the old 
heckle room was abandoned and concentration achieved by 
the building of a heckle room at Hawkslaw. 

On the Riverbank Mill, which belonged to the late Mi- 
Thomas Crabb, coming into the market, it was acquired by 


the Boase Company and included within the Hawkslaw 
gates. The General Manager is happy in his board of 
directors. His sons have had a practical training in 
various departments of the works, and the same falls to be 
said of Mr Murdoch. The Leven works are under the 
immediate supervision of Mr E. Leslie Boase. Nothing 
gives the Chairman of the Company more pleasure than to 
pay a visit to Leven. He has been a member of Inner- 
leven Golf Club for many years, and although no longer 
young, he gets health and enjoyment from an occasional 
round on the links by Leven and Lundin. 


Six years ago Provost Adamson opened the Glebefield 
aerated water works near the Railway station. The works 
are splendidly appointed, and the daily output of sparkling 
waters is large. Under the management of Mr J. 
Kinncar Campbell, the Durie aerated water works have 
been reconstructed, and the business has been largely 
increased. The Leven steam laundry was opened in the 
spring of 1905 by the Kirkcaldy Laundry Company. The 
fittings are of the most modern type and the company 
turns out good work. There is also a laundry work in 
North Street. 

The Old Waggon Road. 

Amidst all the changes which have been experienced in 
the Burgh of Leven in recent years, perhaps the most 
striking change of all is that which time has wrought on 
the old Waggon Road. The coals which were exported 
from Leven harbour to Holland, Norway, and the upper 
reaches of the Baltic, were trundled down the old Waggon 
Road in bogies. The bogies were drawn by horses on 
wooden rails, and in the busy shipping season the crack ot 



the driver's whip, the creaking of stiff wheels and the 
rattle of tail chains could be heard day arid night. The 
sides of the waggon way have, for a considerable distance, 
been taken up by cottages of a modern type. Brambles 
and rose bushes grow in profusion on the slopes of the line 
to the north of the North British Railway. The waggon 
way is one of the finest inland walks in the district, so 
that if the people of Leven have lost in one way through 
the stoppage of the " Sauchbush " and the " Siller Hole " 
pits, they have gained in another by their being permitted 
to ramble among the haunts of bush and birds without 
being troubled by the rattle of waggons and the noise 
which comes from the accessories of a colliery. 

The Valuation of Scoonie. 

The valuation of a burgh or parish is accepted as much 
as the census returns as an index to decay or progress. 
The following table bearing on the valuation of Scoonie 
will be read with interest by people of a statistical turn of 

mind : 
















... 17,598 19 

18,022 12 4 

18,528 18 7 

19,136 15 1 

19,581 1 10 

19,760 11 6 

20,260 16 11 

20,781 18 4 

21,250 9 11 

The burgh made a distinct leap forward in 1878 and 
1880, when the Leven coalfields began to be opened up, 


11,824 7 
19,026 3 11 
21,122 10 
23,349 5 
25,897 11 
27,246 5 
27,992 3 
28,730 7 
30,636 16 
30,859 11 
31,414 8 
31,309 9 
33,017 6 
33,103 2 


and it will be seen from the above statistics that the 
progress was very marked from 1893 to 1897. Since. 1897 
things have moved quietly ; but still progress has been 

The Parish Council. 

Popularly elected bodies were for the first time con- 
stituted for the government of Scottish burghs in 1833. 
Parochial Boards, mainly representative of the rights of 
property, were called into existence by the Poor Law 
(Scotland) Act, 1845, the parish being the Poor Law area. 
The Local Government Act, 1889, gave practically the 
same self-government to the landward parts of the parish 
as the burghs had enjoyed for years ; the Act of 1894 
introduced the principle of self-government into Poor 
Law administration, and in 1895 the Parochial Board 
gave place to the Parish Council. Here are the names of 
the chairmen of Scoonie Parish Council since the passing 
of the Act: Mr John Wilkie, 20th May 1895 to Decem- 
ber 1898; Mr R. M. Christie of Durie, from December 
1898 to' December 1904; Mr John White, elected 1904 
and continues in office. Mr James Philp was appointed 
Inspector cf Poor in. May 1879, and continues to fulfil the 
duties of the office. Mr Philp is also Clerk to the Council. 
The Rev. David Swan gives us the following glimpse at 
the administration of poor funds in the parish in 1790: 

" There are no begging poor in this parish. About fifteen or 
sixteen families receive from 6<1 to Is of weekly supplies, according 
to their respective circumstances. Three or four have a small 
monthly allowance, besides occasional charities given to families in 
distress. The members of the Kirk Session are very careful in 
guarding on the one hand against impositions, and on the other 
hund, that no necessitous person be neglected. The only funds for 
the support of the poor are the weekly collections at the church 
doors, amounting to about 26 ; the collection at- the Communion, 


dispensed twice a year, 11; seat rents, 4; and a trifling sum 
from the mort-cloth, amounting altogether to 45 or 46 sterling 
per annum." 

Writing in December 1836, nine years before the 
Poor Law Act came into operation, the Rev. Dr Brewster 
says : 

" The average number of paupers upon the register roll for the 
last three years is 15 ; but none are placed there unless those who, 
from age and infirmity, appear altogether incapacitated from ever 
earning a maintenance for themselves. A much greater number of 
poor receive occasional assistance during a temporary illness, or in 
winter, when there is no outdoor work. This is given at the dis- 
cretion of the minister or the elder of the district, which has the 
effect of stimulating their own exertions, and tends in some 
measure to keep alive a spirit of independence, which, I fear, is 
fast fading from our population. The average annual disburse- 
ments made by the Kirk Session for the last three years amounted 
to 219 14s Id to regular and occasional paupers, 161 15s 5d ; to 
pauper lunatics, 42 19s 4d ; and to sessional expenses, 14 I9s4d. 
Of this sum the church-door collections amounted to 62 17s 7d, 
and sundries to 8 4s 6d. The remainder was contributed by the 
heritors according to their valued rents." 

The Stage Coach and the Railway. 

In 1836 there were two arrivals of mails and two 
dispatches at the Post Office of Leven daily. The stage 
coach passed through Leven from Anstruther for Edin- 
burgh three times a week, and a steamboat plied between 
Granton or Leith twice a day during the summer months 
and once in the winter months. There being no bridge 
over the Leven near the town of Leven, the stage coach 
was run via Cameron Bridge. The railway from Leven to 
Thornton was opened in 1854, and trains first began to be 
run to Largo and eastwards in August 1857. The line is 
only a single one ; but the passenger traffic has increased 
so much in recent years that it is expected the North 
British Railway Company will construct a double line at 
no distant date. 


Leven Water Supply. 

The Water Act empowering the Town Council to 
introduce the Carlhurlie or Pratis burn water supply was 
obtained in 1889. The pipe track is about four miles. 
The water was introduced in 1891, and the works, includ- 
ing the filters, cost 23,300. The reservoir takes up 
about 23 acres. 

Leven Lovely for Situation. 

The Rev. David Swan disposes of the situation of the 
town of Leven in a single line " the beach is sandy and 
the shore quite flat." Mr Swan's description is true 
enough ; but it does not by any means exhaust the subject. 
Leven is positively lovely for situation. In every season 
of the year Largo Bay, whether the breeze 

" With careering wing 
Stays like an unseen being on the water," 

or the stormy wind angrily sweeps the surface, is ever 
interesting. The softly rippling waves have a soothing 
influence on the mind and are suggestive of the calms of 
life ; the thunder of the billows recalls the strifes of the 
world. But a most interesting feature of Largo Bay is the 
perpetual change of colour. In days when the sky is 
clear we have the "dark blue sea." In days when the 
clouds are moving to and fro, as if driven by a rushing 
mighty wind, we have light and dark blues and light and 
dark greens in turn, while in the days when the 

" Rain from the sky turns into pearl" 

as it touches the calm water, and Nature seems to be 
"speaking" in whispers, the feeling of repose is charming. 
As the sun glints through the clouds, the white side of the 
Bass Rock lights up the Forth, and a little further up the 
firth the eye lights on the greens of North Berwick Law 


and the country which surrounds it. It has been said by 
a poet that spring silently passes into summer ; summer 
fades in the golden tints of autumn, and autumn dies in 
the cold embrace of winter. The view across the Forth in 
winter, with its " chill embrace," has as many charms as it 
has in summer. In winter, when the sun is late in rising, 
it seems to turn the Bass into a huge emerald, and in a 
short time afterwards it sits like a golden crown upon 
North Berwick Law. Largo Law and Elie Point, and the 
long stretches of glistening sand, have all their beauties in 
spring, in summer, in autumn, and in winter. The 
Apostle of the Gentiles, in writing to the Church at Rome 
in the hope of convincing them that the heathen world 
had little excuse for sheer indifference, although they had 
no direct revelation, says: "That the invisible things of 
God from the creation of the world were clearly seen in 
the things which He had made, even His eternal power 
and Godhead." There are few more striking types of 
the " invisible things of God " than the pictures which are 
unfolded by nature daily on the " flat sandy beach " of 
Leven and in Largo Bay. 

Formation of a Gas Company for the Burgh. 

As far back as 1837, a meeting of the inhabitants of 
Leven was held for the purpose of considering the advis- 
ability of forming a company for lighting the town with 
gas. It was agreed to form a joint stock company. The 
company was duly launched with a capital of 800, and so 
rapidly were the works constructed that in October just 
eight months after the first meeting we find the manage- 
ment of the Relief Church in Viewforth Square making 
application for a supply of gas for the church. In the 
closing days of October 1837 gas was first turned on at 
the works. The Company was a success from the day of 


its inception, and in November 1846 the capital was 
raised from 800 to 1,500. In 1854 the capital was 
increased to 1800; in 1897 to 3,600; and in 1900 to 
9,000. The following are the names of the managers : - 
1837-1845, James Aifcken ; 1845-1846, John Gillies ; 1846- 
1849, John Low; 1849-1859, John Dasken ; 1859-1860, 
James C. Adamson: 1860-1869, J. Lowden ; 1869-1870, 
Wm. Manclark; 1870-1873, Henry Landale ; 1873-1900, 
Robert Readdie ; 1900, P. L. Readdie. 

Mr Lowden was the originator of the North British 
Association of Gas Managers, and was for two years its 
president. The present manager is a son of Mr Robert 
Readdie, who was the manager for 27 years, and under 
whose management the works were much extended. 

Some of the Customs of other Days. 

In his article in the " Old Statistical Account," Mr 
Swan has a chapter devoted to the " advantages " and 
" disadvantages " of Scoonie, and under the heading of the 
former he says : 

" It is no small advantage to this parish, particularly to the 
town of Leven, that they have no connection with corporation or 
borough politics, which for the most part are attended with such 
bad effects upon the industry and the morals of the people." 

Mr Swan's note is a terrible reflection upon local govern- 
ment in the burghs in the closing days of the eighteenth 
century. These were the days when Lucky Skinner in 
her hostelry at Kinghorn could control a parliamentary or 
a municipal election. A Member of Parliament for a 
group of burghs was elected by a representative from each 
burgh, and it was no uncommon thing for one or more of 
the members of the " constituency " to be kidnapped, 
carried to an alehouse, and held a prisoner until the 
election was over. Time has brought changes in connection 


with parliamentary and municipal elections. If only the 
minister of the parish could come back to the former 
scene of his labours he would find that the people are 
now-a-days alive to the responsibilities of self-government, 
and that municipal and parliamentary elections come and 
go without affecting in the slightest degree the ''industries" 
or the "morals" of the community. 

Considering Mr Swan's strong scent for vagaries 
among his parishioners and his contempt for institutions 
which might interfere with the " morals " of the people, it 
is inexplicable that he should have tolerated such a custom 
as that complained of by his successor, Dr Brewster. In 
the " New Statistical Account," Dr Brewster says : 

" It may be proper to mention an improvement in the mode of 
conducting funerals, which has tended much to the comfort and 
convenience of the working classes. When the present incumbent 
came to the parish, it was customary to have at least thr^e services, 
but often more one of spirits with bread and cheese, and two of 
wine with cake and biscuits. The services not only occasioned 
much delay, but entailed a heavy expense upon poor families, 
which, at such a season especially, they were little able to bear. 
Now the services are altogether discontinued, the procession com- 
mences precisely at the hour appointed, and it may be recorded to 
the credit of the community that generally they entered most 
readily into the new arrangement." 

It appears from this paragraph that the mournful 
processions were often delayed so that the services of 
spirits and wine might be continued the delay was 
perhaps even a worse feature of the custom than the tax 
through which the pockets of poor people were drawn 
upon to an extent they were little able to bear. 

From Chapman to Rector and Author. 

For genius and learning. Jerome Stone was one of the 
most remarkable men the parish of Scooiiie has produced. 


He was born in 1727. His father sailed a small ship 
between the port of Leven and the Continent, and died 
abroad when Jerome was only three years of age. There 
was a considerable family, and the mother and the young 
family were left in straitened circumstances. Jerome 
attended the parish school of Scoonie, and while a mere 
child took up the business of a travelling chapman. Swan 
says that the " dealing in buckles, garters, and such like 
small articles " did not suit his " superior genius." He 
therefore converted his stock into books, and for some 
years went through the country and attended the fairs as 
an itinerant bookseller. At Wemyss, Scoonie, Anstruther, 
St Andrews, and the different fairs in the " Kingdom," he 
handled his books as a man who loved them, and really 
seemed to pay more attention to the improvement of the 
mind than to the pecuniary side of the question. At an 
early age he showed that he had a peculiar talent for 
acquiring languages. He first learned Hebrew and Greek, 
without assistance from any teacher, and feeling that he 
could not make the progress that he desired without a 
knowledge of Latin, he applied to Mr John Tuscan, the 
parish schoolmaster of Scoonie, for assistance. Principal 
Tullidelph, a heritor of the parish, encouraged him to 
prosecute his studies at St Andrews University, and there 
he became a great favourite with professors and students. 
Before he had been many months in St Andrews he was 
reeling off humorous poetical pieces for the ' Scots 
Magazine." While in his third session he was recom- 
mended by the professors as the student best qualified to 
fill the position of assistant teacher in the school of 
Dunkeld. The Scoonie chapman taught with marked 
ability, and in little more than two years after his 
appointment he was promoted to the rectorship, on the 


post becoming vacant. He studied Gaelic at Dunkeld. 
At first he thought the language a "barbarous gibberish"; 
but he soon discovered something of its true genius and 
character and translated a number of " daring, passionate, 
and bold" poems into English. He died while preparing 
for the press a treatise entitled an " Inquiry into the 
Original of the Nation and Language of the Ancient 
Scots, with conjectures about the primitive state of the 
Celtic and other European Nations." Tn this treatise 
Stone tries to prove that the Scots drew their origin, as 
well as their language, from the Gauls. The learned men 
of the time who had a peep at the manuscript write of it 
as a work which showed "great ingenuity, immense read- 
ing, and indefatigable industry." Stone also left in manu- 
script an allegory entitled " The Immortality of Authors." 
It was published after his death, and because of " its 
lively fancy, sound judgment, and correct taste," says the 
Rev. David Brewster, has run into many editions. Poor 
Stone was cast down by a fever in 1757, while in his 
30th year. Who knows what one so gifted would have 
accomplished had he seen 60 summers instead of 30 1 He 
had a great love for his mother, who survived him two 
years, and who was provided for in life by the Duchess of 
Atholl, as a testimony of respect to the memory of her 
gifted son. Although generally called Jerome, the real 
name of this gifted son of Sooonie was Jeremiah. Here is 
an extract from the register of baptisms of the Parish of 
Scoonie kept in H.M. Register House, Edinburgh : 

" 1727, March 17 Jeremiah, lawfull son to William Stons and 
Janet Hegges, in Leven, was baptized in face of the congregation." 



Scoonie Burial Places. 

rVURING the past century a great many burial mounds 
*-' have been opened in Scotland, and in many instances 
the discoveries made give us what may be spoken of as 
moonlight glimpses of the days when " wild in woods the 
noble savage ran." When ancient Caledonia was thickly 
covered with vast forests, the inhabitants were thinly 
scattered along the fringes of the woods, and by the sands 
of the seashore. Their lives were like the vapour spoken 
to by the Apostle James " they appeared only for a little 
while and then they vanished away." The}' vanished 
away without leaving any written records of the lives they 
lived, and the histories of the savage races lie buried in 
the mounds which are met with in all parts of the country. 
The contents of these mounds are very similar. To-day a 
tumulus is opened which contains a heap of flint flakes, 
for making a new supply of arrows in the "dim beyond ; " 
to-morrow a pre-historic cemetery is laid bare in which 
there are many rude stone cists. In the cists, skeletons, 
unshapely sun-dried clay food and drinking vessels, and 
flint arrow and spear heads are found. The flint imple- 
ments of warfare take us back to the Stone Age ; and 
the food and drinking vessels tell us of a time when the 
dead of Scotland were buried with a supply of food for 
their "long journe}'." 


Scoonie Parish has provided more than one burial mound 
which give us a peep at the parisli of other days. In the 
"Old Statistical Account " Mr Swan says : 

" The only antiquities this parish can boast of are some stone 
coffins which have been found to the eastward of the river, with 
human bones, supposed to have been buried there in the ninth 
century, when a battle was fought on these grounds between the 
Scots and the Danes." 

If Mr Swan's supposition is right, it would give colour to 
the idea that the Standing Stones of Lundin had been 
erected to the memory of some Danish chiefs who fell in 
the deadly combat which was waged between Danish 
invaders and the early inhabitants of the sunny slopes of 
Largo and Scoonie. 

But in 1821 a much more interesting relic of antiquity 
than that of the ninth century was opened in a field on 
the estate of Aithernie. When digging moulding sand for 
Leven Foundry, the workmen struck right into the heart 
of an ancient tumulus. This cemetery of pre-historic 
times contained as many as twenty rude stone cists. 
These cists were typical of the pre-historic burial places 
found throughout the country. They were constructed of 
slabs placed on edge, with a covering stone, and cemented 
with clay puddling. Above the coffins was a covering of 
stones, the stones having hundreds of years before been so 
firmly cemented together with clay and sand that the 
workmen required the aid of picks to enable them to 
" rifle the tombs." Small urns were found in two of the 
coffins, and five of them contained larger urns, 14 inches 
in diameter and 24 inches in depth, and in another cist 
quantities of charred wood beads were discovered. All the 
coffins, except the five in which were the large urns, con- 
tained human bones, and innumerable bones were found 
outwith the mouths of the cists. 



The Scoonie Stone. 



And in addition to the Aithernie find, we have the 
famous Scoonie Stone, which was discovered and handed 
over to the Antiquarian Museum in 1866. The stone is thus 
described in the Proceedings of the Antiquarian Society : 

" The stone measures 3 feet 6 inches in length, 2 feet 4 inches in 
breadth, and 4 inches in thickness. The stone displays on the 
upper part the so-called "elephant" or beaked animal, its ex- 
tremities terminating in scrolls ; and below it apparently a deer 
hunt ; a rider on horseback, and in front of him a dog on the point 
of seizing a full antlered stag, with a javelin apparently buried in 
its side. Below these is another horseman, and in front of him a 
dog, and below the dog a third horseman. At the lower angle of 
the stone is cut a small cross. Along the whole left of the stone is 
incised an Ogham inscription. On the reverse is sculptured a 
Latin cross, with a plain circular disk in the centre, and the limbs 
filled up with interlaced rope or knot work ; the scroll termination 
of the nondescript animal (like the dog-headed animals on the 
Ulbsteii and Brodick Stones) appears over the left limb of the 

The Ogham alphabet is supposed to take us back to the 
days of the Roman occupation of Britain. 

On Durie Vale farm, on the borders of the Parish of 
Scoonie, Mr John Wallace, farmer, laid bare two stone 
cists five years ago. Centuries after the tumulus of 
Aithernie had been abandoned as a place of sepulture, the 
God's-acre on the little hill by the burn of Scoonie became 
the burial place for the parish. As far back as 1055, the 
Church of Scoonie was granted to the Culdees of Loch 
Leven by the Bishop of St Andrews. All the movement 
and the force of centuries of the little Parish of 
Scoonie have been garnered here. The men and women 
who toiled in the fields ; the men svho commanded 
the ships which carried Durie coals to Holland ; 
the men who plied the shuttle in the town of Leven, 
and the women who sjx-nt many a weary hour at the 


spinning wheel, have all found a last resting place on 
the knoll around the site of the old church which nine 
hundred years ago fell into the hands of the Loch Leven 
Culdees. The resident of to-day who has " fallen on 
sleep " finds a last resting place side by side with the old 
world dreamer of centuries ago. As a burial vault for the 
Durie family, the fragment of the old church presents 
a striking contrast to that which the building did 
when Moncrieff, the noted " keeper of Conventicles," 
thundered his protests from the pulpit, and when the 
villagers congregated in a knot and discussed the latest 
vagaries of Charles L, the last wedding, or the new-made 
grave. The old bell, to whose music the hearts of Scoonie 
people had beaten, is no longer witli us, and the sun-dial 
has ceased to case its silent shadow on spots where the 
remains of parishioners have been gathered to their 
mother earth. A glance, too, at the inscriptions on many 
of the grave stones indicates a very different faith in a 
future life to that held by the warriors who were buried 
with their food vessels and their flint implements of war- 
fare " Perpetual changes glide on in eternal continuity." 

" By tlie same law those globes wheel round, 
Each drawing each, yet all still found 
In one eternal system bound, 
One order to fulfil." 

It may be interesting to state that the first extension 
of the cemetery was made in 1841, the second in 1866, 
just after the parish had been visited by the cholera 
scourge, the third in 1886, and in the spring of 1905 a 
fourth was carried through. The improvement of 1905 
was undoubtedly the most important of all the changes. 
Something like 1 :] acres were added to the ground, an 
entrance made from the north and a neat house built for 


the superintendent. The extension cost the Parish 
Council something like 2100 ; the addition of 1886 
necessitated an outlay of ,535 3s. 

There are some quaint-looking memorials in Scoonie 
Cemetery, but there is an absence of the striking epitaphs 
which are common to some places of sepulture. Un- 
doubtedly the most notable among the older stones is 
that which marks the resting-place of Thomas Gourlay of 
Banbeath, and which bears the date 1641. A notable 
tribute is paid to Mr Andrew Wilkie, who was the first 
Chief Magistrate of the Burgh of Leven, and who died 
in 1878. The memorial is spoken of as an affectionate 
tribute of " loving and sorrowing friends," and the 
inscription concludes : " Take him for all in all, we shall 
not look upon his like again." The inscription on the 
monument erected over the grave of the Rev. Dr George 
Brewster presents a striking contrast to the words one 
reads on the handsome marble stone erected in memory of 
the Rev. James Blackwood, who took up duty in the 
parish in 1866. Dr Brewster died in the 42nd year of his 
ministry ; poor Blackwood had only been two years in the 
parish when he fell on sleep. And so we are told that "his 
sun went down when it was yet day." A Runic cross 
marks the grave of the Rev. Dr Duncan who is still re- 
membered for his "Genius and Common Sense." The Rev. 
Adam Forman of the Free Church, like Dr Brewster, was 
71 years when he died. 

Leven Golf Links. 


Innerleven Golf Club was formed in 1820. It must 
not for a moment be thought, however, that 1820 was the 
first year on which the Royal and Ancient game was 


played on the classic links of Dubbieside. Some people 
may tell us that Outram was taking the poet's proverbial 
licence when he sung of the days when 

Adam bathed in Leven tide, 
And Eve reposed at Dubby side ; 

but it will not be a difficult matter to persuade golfers that 
as far back as the middle of the eighteenth century men in 
tile hats and claw-hammer coats chased the ball and 
wielded the cleek on the "velvet links " which stretched 
between the Leven and the old harbour of Methil. Mr 
W. Dalrymple, the writer of the article on Innerleven in 
" British Golf Links," states that he had seen an account 
for the price of a club, which bore the date 1761. This 
takes us back to the days when the Hon. James Wemyss 
of Wemyss owned the lands of Wemyss and Tnnerleven, 
and just a year before Mr Wemyss entered Parliament as 
the Member for the county of Fife. 

It was in 1867 that the Innerleven Club finally 
abandoned the Dubbieside course of nine holes and cook 
up the links which stretch between Scoonie Burn and the 
village of Lundin Links. The following is the motion 
which was unanimously adopted on 6th September 1867: 

" Taking into consideration the rough state and yearly 
diminishing breadth of Dubbieside links, it would be for the benefit 
of the Innerleven Golfing Society if they were to discontinue 
holding their competitions on the said links, and in lien adopt the 
popular green at Leven." 

Smoke from the pit had in 1867 only begun to 
cast its shadows on Kinnarchie Braes and Aberhill and 
the greens which lay between Nicol Malcolm's dairy and 
Jenny Nicol's well. After 1869 the course on which 
many a stift' battle had been fought had begun to be 
gradually encroached upon by mineral developments, and 



the encroachment has gone on year after year, by coalpits, 
redd-bings, and railway sidings, till to-day there is not a 
patch of the turf of the old course to be seen. If Dr 
Graham, the laureate of the Club in its Dubbieside days, 
could come back from the "dim beyond" and take a peep 
from Kinnarchie Braes at the once "blissful spot," he would 
be apt, instead of indulging in poetry, to use one or other of 
the epithets which fell from the lips of the red-coats of the 
olden time when the " leather " was trapped in the whins 

Innerleven and Thistle Golf Club-Houses. 

(By permission of Mr A. Hogg, Chemist.) 

which protected the " Whin Hole," or fell short of the 
ridge which made the " High Hole" one of the most sport- 
ing on the green. 

In 1841, long before golf had penetrated into every 
part of the world, and certainly before it was looked upon 
by communities generally as a health-giving game, Dr 
Graham wrote of it thus : 


Wha would be free from doctors' bills, 
From trash o' powders and o' pills, 
Will find a cure for a' his ills 

On the Links o' Innerleven : 
For there whar lasses bleach their claes, 
And bairnies toddle doun the braes, 
The merry golfer daily plays 

On the Links o' Innerleven. 

In the same poem the laureate gives us the following 
glimpse at the old clubhouse, where many a keen tussle 
was fought over again : 

Sae hie ye to the golfers' ha', 

And there, arranged alang the wa", 

O' presses ye will see a raw 

At the Club o' Innerleven. 
There from some friendly box ye'll draw 
A club and second-handed ba' 
A Gourlay pill 's the best o' a' 

For health at Innerleven. 

Gourlay was a famous ball maker. In 1848, Dr Graham 
sung thus of the advent of the gutta-percha ball: 

Though gouf be of our games most rare, 
Yet, truth to speak, the tear and wear 
0' balls was felt to be severe, 

And source o' great vexation : 
When Gourlay's balls cost half-a-crown, 
And Allan's not a farthing down, 
The feck o's wad be harried soon 

In this era o' taxation. 

Right fain we were to be content 
Wi' used-up balls new lickt wi' paint, 
That ill concealed baith scar and rent 

Balls scarcely fit for younkers 
And though our best wi' them we tried, 
And nicely every club applied, 
They whirred and fuffed and dookcd and shied, 

And sklintit into bunkers. 

But times are changed we dinna care 
Though we may ne'er drive leather mair, 
Be't stuffed wi' feathers or wi' hair 

For noo we're independent : 
At last a substance we ha'e got 
Frae which, for scarce mair than a groat, 
A ba' comes that can row and stot 

A ba' the most transcendent. 


Hail, gutta-percha, precious gum ! 
O'er Scotland's links lang may ye bum. 
Some purse-proud billies haw and hum, 

And say ye're douf at fleein' ; 
But let them try ye fairly out 
Wi' ony balls for days about, 
Your merits they will loudly tout, 

And own they ha'e been leein'. 

The names of the leading families of mid and east 
Fife appear on the roll of membership. As one turns over 
the pages, he comes across the names of the Wemysses of 
Wemyss Castle ; Anstruthers of Balcaskie ; Oswalds of 
Dunnikier ; Balfours of Balbirnie ; the Bethunes of Blebo 
and of Balfour ; Rintouls of Lahill ; Christies of Durie 
Haigs of Ramornie ; and Gilmours of Montrave. One 
of the founders of the Innerleven Club was Mr James 
Peter, of the Kirkland Works, on the banks of Leven 
Water. Mr James Peter was a captain of the club in 
1826, and others of the name to fill the chair were Mr 
John Peter, 1842 ; Mr H. Tandy Peter, 1844 to 1868 ; and 
Mr Tom Peter in 1861. The latter wrote a book of 
" Golfing Reminiscences." He and his brother James 
were credited with devising the hand -hammering of balls, 
which led to the ultimate marking of guttas. 

The first amateur tournament was held on the links of 
the "City by the Sea" in 1858; but three years before 
that April 1 855 Captain Wemyss of Wemyss Castle 
was commissioned by the Innerleven Club to raise the 
question of a tournament with the Royal and Ancient 
Club of St Andrews. And at that time there was no club 
in the country which could bring forward a better foursome 
of amateurs than the club whose headquarters was on the 
" velvet links " of Dubbieside. 

The present club-house, which was erected from plans 
prepared by Mr Gillespie, St Andrews, is splendidly 



situated, a view of the entire course being obtained from 
some of the windows. The red bricks and the red roof 
make a striking picture, looking from the east across the 
links or the sandy beach. 

Mayor} [Leven 

Mr John Adamson, Captain, Innerleven Golf Club. 

Mr John Adamson is captain of the Club. Mr Adam- 
son is the oldest playing member of the club, having joined 
in 1851, when the club played on Dubbieside Links 
After long residence abroad, he returned to Leven in 1870 
and took up farming at Bankhead, but has latterly resided 



in Leven. He plays a wonderful game for a man who has 
played golf since 1851. 

Mr Wm. Shepherd WAS appointed Secretary of the Club 
in 1899. It is sixteen years since he came to Leven and 

Mayor] [Lrven 

Mr Wm. Shepherd, Hon. Secy., Innerleven Golf Club. 

took up business. He learnt his golf on Musselburgh and 
Gullane Links. His stay in Leven has quickened his 
interest in the game, and he is one of the steadiest players 

v^< v*ij.c*.ll\v 




on the course, in 1905 carrying off the Wemyss Trophy 
with a score of 77. Mr Shepherd is as genial in his busi- 
ness relations as solicitor and bank agent as he is on the 
golf course. 

Mr James Bell is the Treasurer of the Club. He was 
appointed in 1902, and fulfils the duties with marked 
ability. Mr Bell is a native of Leven. His neat pitching 
is a feature of his game on the links. 

The following is a complete list of the names of the 
Captains since the founding of the Innerleven : 

Rev. Geo. Brewster, 1821, 1822 
Alex. Wallace, - - 1825 
John Wallace, 1823 and 1857 
C. M. Christie, 1824 and 1833 
James Peter, - - - 1826 
John Haig, 1827, 1845, and 1862 
Henry Balfour, - - 1828 
Thomas Greig, - - 1829 
Robert Bisset, - - 1830 
Dr George Forbes, - 1831 

James Simpson, - - 1832 
Robert Haig, - - - 1834 
James Fernie, - - 1835 
David Wallace, - - 1836 
David Wylie, - - 1837 
James Balfour, 1838 and 1839 
Rev. Thomas Cutler, - 1840 
James Anderson, sen., - 1841 
John Peter, - - - 1842 
David M. Adamson, - 1843 
H. T. Peter, 1844 and 1863 
John Howie, - - 1846 

P S. Deas, 1847 and 1848 

John Wood, - - - 1849 
Wm. Glass, - - - 1850 
H. Thomas Peter, - 1851 

James Greenhill, - - 1852 
Adam Morrison, - - 1853 
Robert Balfour, - - 1854 
Jas. H. E. Wemyss, - 1855 
John Wallace, - - 1857 
J. T. Oswald, 1856, 1868, 1869 
Samuel C. Thomson, - 1858 

William Haig, - - 1859 

Dr Neil A. Kennedy, - 1860 
Andrew Wilkie, - - 1861 
James Anderson, jun., - 1864 
John Dunn, - - - 1865 
Wm. Henry Haig, - - 1866 
Robert Rintoul, - - 1867 
Robert T. Boothby, - - 1870 
Sir R. Anstruther, Bart , - 1871 
Robert Christie, 1872 and 1873 
Sir J. Gilmour, Bart., 1874, 

1875, and 1876 

Charles Anderson, - - 1877 
John Balfour, - - 1878 

R. M. Christie, 1879 and 1880 
R. G . E. Wemyss of Wemyss 

Castle, 1881, 1882, and 1883 
Alan Stewart, - - - 1884 
E. Balfour of Balbirnie, - 1885 
Randle Jackson, - - 1886 
Rev. D. Brewster, 1887 and 188S 
G. T. Chiene, 1889 and 1890 

W. L. Boase, - - - 1891 
John M'Kee Lees, - - 1892 
H. V. Haig, 1893 and 1894 

Charles Cook, W.S., - - 1895 
Thomas C. Balfour, - - 1896 
John Oswald, - - - 1897 
R. M. Pilkington, 1898 and 1899 
J. H. Smith, - - - 1900 
Rev. C. Durward, D.D., - 1901 
W. H. Cook, C.A., 1902 and 1903 
John Adamson, 1904 and 1905 




The Thistle Golf Club was formed in 1868, just a year 
after the Innerleven Club took up its abode on the banks 
of the Scoonie burn. The artisans of Leven had played 
golf between Scoonie and the " Mile Dyke " long before 



Mr J. Ogilvy Shepherd, Captain, Thistle Golf Club. 

1868, but this was really the first attempt to form a club 
which was to maintain the same relation to the Innerleven 
as the St Andrews bears to the Royal and Ancient. The 
membership for the first year was as small as the humble 


coin which constituted membership, but shopkeepers and 
artisans soon crowded into the Club, and the record of the 
Thistle is one of uninterrupted progress. To-day there are 
upwards of 600 names on the books. For a good many 
years the Club was without " house or hall,'' but ultimately 
a step in the right direction was taken by the acquisition 
of a wooden clubhouse, the renting of a building came 
next, and then came the purchase of the Innerleven old 
house, and afterwards the extension of the building. The 
old building and the extension cost 2500. The Club is as 
wealthy in trophies as it is in excellent exponents of the 
game of golf. Among the trophies are the Campbell 
Medal, the Reid Trophy, the Porter Medal, the Findlay 
Shield, the Gilmour Jug, and the Baird Cup. The prizes 
are contested for by large fields of competitors, and year 
by year the standard of play is raised to a point which 
charms the most exacting. The Baird Cup is the club 
championship trophy, and its winner has to cany out 
success by the double test of score and match play. There 
are many excellent exponents of the game in the club, and 
the management can put a team in the field any day which 
is difficult to beat. The match playing members have 
gathered numerous honours for the club, and the "Evening 
Times" Shield has three times adorned the walls of the 

Mr J. Ogilvy Shepherd was appointed Captain of the 
Thistle in 1904. Mr Shepherd learned his golf on the 
Mortonhall course, near Edinburgh. He joined his brother 
in business in Leven six years ago, arid is as popular 
among the members of the Innerleven as he is in the 
Thistle. Mr J. Henderson succeeded Mr J. T. Ireland as 
secretary in January 1904. Mr Ireland was secretary for 
the Thistle for twenty years, and there is not a golfer in 



the " Kingdom " who would grudge him liberal acknow- 
ledgment for the good work he did in connection with the 
game at a time when it was not so popular as it is at 
present. The Thistle is positively a model club for artisans 
among the clubs of Scotland, and the position it occupies 

rir J. T. Ireland, for 20 Years Secretary, Thistle Golf Club. 

to-day is in a large degree attributable to the good work 
done during the past quarter of a century by Mr Ireland 
and other officials. Mr Henderson makes a worthy suc- 
cessor to Mr Ireland. It is a pleasure to notice the quiet 
and unostentatious way he does his work. He is a native 


of Leven and learned his golf on the links of the burgh, 
Mr James Neaves is the treasurer. He has filled the post 
with marked ability for ten years, and is ranked among 
the best players of the Club. The following is a complete 
list of the Captains of the Club since the date of its 
inception : 

Alex. Grandison. David Davidson. J. C. Holland. 

James Morris. 
Henry Landale. 
George Lowe. 
Andrew Goodall. 
James Wilkie. 

D. M. Stewart. 
George Bruce. 
David Jackson. 
James Kerr. 
Alex. Greig. 

Wm. Robertson. 
Thomas Porter. 
Robert Robertson. 
Dr Crole. 
J. O. Shepherd. 

The three Clubs, the Innerleveu, the Thistle, and 
Lundin Links, are responsible for the upkeep of the course, 
which is leased from Sir John Gilmour, Bart., and Mr R. 
Maitland Christie of Durie. Mr John Hunter, Edin- 
burgh, is Captain of the Luudin Links Club, and Mr 
Thomas Nicol fulfils the duties of Secretary. 

Young players may be pleased to have the names of 
the respective holes : 

1. The Table. 7. North Sunnybraes. 13. Sea. 

2. The Howe. 8. Station. 14. Silverburn. 

3. The South Seg. 9. Lundin. 15. North Seg. 

4. The Dyke. 10. High Hole. 16. Dyke Neuk. 

5. The Signal. 11. South Sunnybraes. 17. The Railway. 

6. The Knox. 12. The Trows. 18. Scoonie. 


As the thousands who annually disport themselves on 
the links are rightly thinking more of golf than of events 
connected with the distant past, one may be pardoned 
recalling that in February 1651 Charles II. appeared on 
the links in holiday humour, if not to follow the cleek and 
the ball, to " ride at the glove." James VI. and Charles I. 


learned their golf at Dunfermline, on a stretch of ground 
to the north of the ancient city boundary. In the autumn 
of 1650 Charles subscribed the " Dunfermline Declara- 
tion," in presence of the Earl of Wemyss and others, but 
he had little intention of abiding by the Declaration. War 
broke out, and on 1st January 1651 Charles was crowned 
at Scone. Shortly afterwards he made a pilgrimage 
through Fife with a view to inspect the fortifications of 
the Forth. He was at Burntisland on 12th February, and 
on the 13th he was the guest of the Earl of Wemyss at 
Wemyss Castle. Here is an entry from Lament's diary : 

" 1651, Feb. 13. While the King's Majest. lodged att the place 
of the Weyms, the Lairds of Auchmoutie and Kincraigie were both 
knighted. Upon the morowe after, as he came alonge the coast, he 
knighted Collonell Scott, in Leven sands, upon the head of his 
owiie regiment of horse, with his Louet. -Collonell also, both att one 

In another entry Lamont tells us that the King " came 
alonge the coast by Levin, Largo, and Ellie, and lodged 
att the Laird of Enster's house all night ; the 15th and 
16th, being Saturday and Sunday, with the E. Crawfoord 
att Struthers." 


The Leven Ladies' Golf Club is one. of the few ladies' 
clubs in the country which can boast of an eighteen hole 
course. The course is nicely laid out and affords good 
sport. The Club was formed in August 1891, and the 
course was opened in June 1892. The clubhouse is a 
modest one, but a new house, of which a sketch is given, 
is being erected (1905) Mr A. C. Dewar, Leven, is the 
architect. Mrs Anderson of Norton was the first presi- 
dent. In 1893 Mrs Christie of Durie was elected presi- 



dent, and the vice-president's chair was taken by Mrs 
Anderson. Since Mrs Anderson retired, the duties of 
vice-president have been fulfilled in turn by Mrs Crole, Mr 
T. C. Balfour, Dr Crole, and Mr Geo. Donaldson. Miss 
Marjory P. Wilkie, who is an excellent exponent of the 
game of golf, has been secretary of the Club from the date 
of its inception. 

Leven Ladies' Golf Club House. 

Assuming that the Iiinerleven and the Thistle Golf 
Clubs met all the requirements, the Leven Club was 
allowed to lapse in 1884. The Club was instituted in 
1846 or 1817. According to the records, the Club was 
formed on 22nd April 1846, but Mr W. Dalrymple, who 
made a careful search, tells us that the original silver medal 
presented by Mr Matthew Elder bears the inscription: 
" Leven Golf Club, instituted 20th March 1847." At the 


formation of the Club the entry-money was the modest 
sum of one shilling and j, the* green money was fixed at 
threepence. Tn *1849 the^ entry-money was'^raised to 
2s 6d; in 1850, to 3s 6d ; in 1851, to 5s; in 1868, to 
10s 6d ; and by 1857 the green money had been raised 
from threepence to sixpenee.^The record of charges here 
presented does not imply a tendency to extravagance in 
the management of the Club.^It rather suggests stages of 
progress and development. When the Club was instituted 
the members in their spare hours pulled the bent and 
made the greens between Scoonie and the Mile Dyke ; but 
as time went on, and the members gained proficiency in 
the game, the demand arose for better greens, and men 
were employed to do the work. Mr Matthew Elder was a 
great friend of the Club. He was the owner of 'a washing 
house on the banks of the Scoonie burn, and in 1853 he 
gave the Club the use of the " hall " for a year free as a 
clubhouse. Between 1850 and 1870 the Leven Club 
frequently played St Andrews, Edinburgh, Crail, Elie, and 
the Wemyss Clubs, and now and again ' convival meet- 
ings '' were held after the supremacy on the greens had 
been decided by the competitions. There is a breezy pic- 
nic feeling about the following entry in the old minute 
book : 

"August 4th, 1858. Agreeable to previous arrangements, a 
goodly muster of the L.G.C. met at 4 P one at the west end of 
Leven Bridge to-day, and by the kindness of Messrs Brown and 
Wilson were conveyed by carts to Wemyss, where on our arrival 
we found the Wemyss Golf Club ready to receive us, and on 
making such arrangements as was necessnry, eight couple started 
with willing hearts and ready hands to a glorious game at their 
favourite pastime." 

After the first round the weather broke down, the 
game was given up, and the players adjourned to Cairns' 



Inn, where a "repast" was provided. Toasts were given and 
songs rendered, and, despite the deluge of rain, the Leven 
players arrived in the evening at their respective homes on 
the banks of the Leven and Scoonie "as safe and as 
happy as when they left." In Nov. 1856 it was decided to 
" employ two men and a cart to clear and level the rough 
places on the links, particularly the putting greens," and 
in 1857 a movement was set on foot to construct bunkers. 
Little progress was made with the construction of hazards 
until 1865 6, when the Club had the assistance of Tom 
Morris. The course was extended in 1868 to one of 18 
holes. The competition of 1869 took place on the ex- 
tended course, and it was then agreed that all club 
matches be played on " the extended course." 

The following is a complete list of the names of the 
Cnptains of the Club from the day of its inception until 
the date of the closing year : 

1847 Thomas Home, baker. 

1848 Robert Smith, draper. 

1849 Matthew Elder. 

1850 Peter Keddie, saddler. 

1851 Robert Bruce. 

1852 John Henderson. 

1853 David Malcolm. 

1854 John Davidson. 

1855 John Patrick. 

1856 David Marshall. 

1857 W. Henderson. 

1858 R. Brown, smith. 

1859 John Patrick. 

1860 Jas. Brown, brewer. 

1861 Robert Bruce. 

1862 David Marshall. 

1863 Dr Kennedy. 


1865 A. Wilkie, banker. 


H. Thomas Peter. 


,, M 


J. Anderson, jun., Norton 


I). Russell, Silverburn. 

187 1 


Andrew Wilkie. 



James Anderson, jun. 
John Davidson. 


Douglas Campbell. 
Robert Smith. 



James Brown. 



G. Wilkie, builder. 
Thomas Anderson. 








The old Lundin Golf Club was founded on 8th May 
1868. Mr Rintoul of Lahill was the first Captain, and Mr 
B. Philp was appointed Hon. Secretary and Treasurer. 
On 13th June of the same year the rules of the Leven 
Club were adopted, and the Innerleven Club offered prizes 
to be competed for over the New Lundin Links only. At 
this time the Lundin Links end of the course was very 
rough, and the Innerleven hit upon the device of offering 
special prizes to the votaries of the game in Largo and 

Lundin Golf Club House. 

Lundin in the hope of inducing the play which would 
bring improvement. The Club had a hum-drum existence 
for nine years, and it dropped quietly out of sight in 1877. 
The Club of to-day sprang into existence in 1899, and its 
record has been one of abounding prosperity. 

Some Club Makers. 

In the minutes of the Leven Club there is an entry 
from which it appears that in 1855 instructions were given 
to Mr Patrick, the clubmaker, to make and forward to St 
Andrews Club two clubs for competition, " as a testimony 


of that respect we entertain for them." 1855 was the year 
John Patrick was Captain of the Leven Club. He was a 
cabinetmaker to trade and began clubmaking about 1847. 
His son, Alex. Patrick, left school and commenced work 
with his father in 1857. On the death of his father in 
1866 he succeeded to the business, and at once began to 
make clubmaking a special feature. Meantime Mr Mat- 
thew Elder had converted the old washing-house of the 
bleaching-green on the banks of Scoonie burn into a club- 
house. The Leven and Innerleven Clubs took possession 
of the upper flats as clubhouses and Mr Patrick took pos- 
session of the ground floor as a shop and workshop. Since 
this date the Patrick family have made clubs to golfers 
throughout the golfing world, Mr Alexander Patrick's 
" specials " are well known in this and other countries, and 
his brother, Mr D. M. Patrick, who is located at Lundin 
Links, has also a world-wide reputation. Mr George 
Nicoll has made golring irons since 1881. He is the maker 
of the famous ''Tail" cleek a cleek which has been 
adopted by the best golfers in the country and he is now- 
making a special feature of the " sheradising," which 
practically does away with iron cleaning. 

Leven Bowling Club. 

Leven Bowling Club was formed in 1859, but August 

1866 had come before the club found themselves in a posi- 
tion to open the green on the banks of the Scoonie Burn. 
A. M'Lellan was the secretary in 1866. The post has 
been filled as follows since 1866 : F. T. Wallace, from 

1867 to 1870; C. Adamson, 1871 to 1874 ; F. T. Wallace, 
1875; George Irons, 1876 and 1877; John Brown, 1878 
to 1884 ; James Garrow, 1885 ; James Williamson, 1886 ; 
William Ballingall, 1887 to 1902; James R. Duthie, 1893 



and 1894; J. W. Home, 1895 to 1905. Mr Home has 
thus filled the position for ten years, creating a record for 
term of service. 

The following is a list of the names of the presidents from 
the opening of the green to the present day : 

1866, Robert Smith. 1880, Capt. Lawson. 1894, John Wilkie. 

1881, P. Campbell. 

1882, John Stuart. 

1883, C. Adamson. 

1884, James Elder. 

1885, Thos. Porter. 

1886, W. Campbell. 

1887, John Brown. 

1888, A. Dryburgh. 

1889, Ar. Dryburgh. 

1890, Geo. Meikle. 

1891, W. Ballingall. 


1868, John Meikle. 

1869, Robert Bruce 

1870, And. Wilkie. 

1871, Geo. Wilkie. 

1872, J. Davidson. 

1873, James Brown. 

1874, Wai. Ireland. 


1876, James Nairn. 

1877, Mat. Elder. 

1895, James Waddell. 

1896, John Finlayson. 

1897, Wm. Wilson. 

1898, James Peattie. 

1899, A. Walker. 


1901, J. W. Home. 

1902, A. M'Ruvie. 

1903, W. Rollo. 

1904, J. W T att. 

1905, J. Somerville. 

1878, And. Webster. 1892, Geo. Blackie. 

1879, D. Pattison. 1893, J. Robertson. 

Education in the Parish. 

The Rev. David Swan, the minister of the parish, 
writing in 1791, says : 

" There is one established grammar school in the parish. The 
master, who is fully qualified for his office, teaches English, Latin, 
Greek, writing, arithmetic, book-keeping, the practical parts of 
mathematics, and navigation. There is a commodious school and ! 
schoolhouse, furnished by the heritors. The salary is 200 Scotch, 
and with the other emoluments may amount to 40 sterling a year. 
There are besides two or three small schools, in which young 
children are taught to read English at the very easy rate of one 
penny per week." 

We find that the commercial side was not ignored by 
the old Scoonie dominie whose emoluments for teaching 


and for acting as parish clerk amounted to 40 a year. 
The pupils had a choice of book-keeping, of the practical 



Bird's Eye View of Leven. 
By permission of Mr A. llotjtj, Chemist. 


Leven High Street. 

[ Edinburgh 


parts of mathematics, and navigation. At that time 
Leven could boast of six trading vessels of from 90 to 150 
tons burthen, and this little fleet required masters to take 
them to Holland and for the east sea trade, and it is 
interesting to find that the masters were trained in Leven. 

Writing in 1836, the Rev. Dr Brewster gives us a 
glimpse at the schools of his day. An average of about 
380 pupils attended the different schools, and Dr Brewster 
S:iys : -" I am not aware of any individual above six years 
of age being altogether unable to read, except two, and 
they are imbeciles." Dr Brewster tells us that in addi- 
tion to the usual branches, " Greek, Latin, French, and 
mathematics are taught " at the parish school, and he adds 
that " there is also a female school, where the more orna- 
mental branches of education are taught." 

In 1873, when the School Board of Scooriie was called 
into existence, the Board found that out of a population of 
1748 they had to provide accommodation for from 500 to 
600 children. The old parish school and the Free Church 
school were taken over by the Board. The parish school 
is now a dwelling-house, and the new school, the Free 
Church school, and the building at Smithygreen, on the 
northern fringes of the parish, provide accommodation for 
1350 pupils. A secondary department has been opened 
in Leven school, and in the secondary department and 
the evening classes every attention is given to the 
commercial side of education. Mr J. A. M'Innes was 
appointed headmaster in January 1892, and Miss M. P. 
Wilkie took up duty as headmistress in 1896. Miss 
Ferrier took charge of Smithygreen school in 1891. The 
Board's first meeting was held in March 1873, and the 
following are the names of the respective chairmen : 


James Anderson, 1873 to 1879 ; Dr Lyall, 1879 to 1882 ; 
R. M. Christie of Dune, 1882 to 1888; John White, 
1888 to 1891 and 1900 to 1903 ; Rev. C. Durward, 1891 
to 1894; Alex. Gumming, 1894 to 1897; Dr Balfour 
Graham, 1897 to 1900; Edward Hill, 1903, and continues 
in office. Mr C. J. Ogilvy has been Clerk to the Board 
since March 1883. 

Ex-Provost White, Leven. 
Montrave, Aithernie, and Kilmux. 

Montrave and Aithernie are situated on the northern 
borders of the parish of Scoonie, arid both estates belong 
to Sir John Gilmour, Bart. In 1160 the lands of 


Montrave and Aithernie were granted to the nuns of 
North Berwick by Duncan, Earl of Fife. After the nuns 
ceased to hold Montrave, it seems to have fallen into the 
hands of a proprietor who held the estates adjoining, and 
for a long series of years the name disappears from the 
public records. The old mansion house was built by 
Major Alexander Anderson, a soldier who served with 
distinction in the Mahratta war. On succeeding to the 
estate, he returned to Fife, and spent the remainder of his 
life at Montrave. He carried out extensive improvements 
on his possessions, and took a great interest in matters 
affecting the county. Major Anderson died on 25th June 
1855, and his remains found a last resting place in Scoonie 
Cemetery. A mural monument marks the spot of 
burial. The tablet bears the following inscription : 

"To the memory of Major Alexander Anderson of Montrave, 
Madras Engineers, who died 25th June 1855, aged 61 years." 

Captain John Anderson, his son, who succeeded to the 
estate, was an officer in the East India Company's service. 
He fell at the siege of Lucknow in 1858, just three years 
after he had succeeded to Montrave, and the property was 
afterwards acquired by Mr Douglas Dick of Pitkerri, 
Forfarshire. The estate of Lundiu was acquired by Mr 
Allan Gilmour, who was a leading shipowner in Glasgow, 
in 1872, and in the following year he purchased the 
adjoining property of Montrave. Mr Giluiour died in 
1884, and was succeeded by his son, the present pro- 
prietor. In 1886 and 1887 Montrave House was 
practically rebuilt. The building is an imposing one, and 
much artistic skill has been brought to bear upon the 
work of laying out the grounds. A delightful carriage 
drive, extending to upwards of a mile, approaches from 



the Leven side on the south to the elegant main entrance. 
The house is lit by electricity, and in the evening the same 
light is turned on in the offices and other buildings and 
their approaches. Sir John Gilmour was born in 1845, 
and was educated at Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities. 

Elliot , 

Sir John Qilmour, Bart. 


His Edinburgh career was followed up by a thorough 
commercial training under his late father, and undoubtedly 
it was the business habits which he learned in early life 
which taught him to reduce method to an art and which 



have made him a conspicuous success as a member of the 
public boards of the county. He was returned as a mem- 
ber of the Fife County Council iu 1889, on the Local 
Government Act becoming law, and on Lord Elgin being 
appointed Viceroy of India, Mr Grilmour was elected 
chairman. The gifted Rev. Dr Thomson, the minister of 

Montrave House. 

(Frmn a phuto by Lady QUmour). 

Markinch, in his " General View of the Agriculture of the 
County of Fife," published in 1800, says : 

" The noblemen and gentlemen of Fife live on the most friendly 
terms, and all County business is conducted with the greatest 
harmony and ease." 

No man has done more to uphold the traditions of the 
county as here set forth than the proprietor of Montrave, and 
as Chairman of the County Council he added to his reputa- 


tion as a man of business capacity and as a discreet 
observer. In 1897, the jubilee year of Her late Majesty 
Queen Victoria, Mr Gilmour had the honour of having a 
baronetcy conferred upon him. As Commander, Sir John 
has done splendid work among the Fife Light Horse. No 
landlord in the " Kingdom " has given more attention to 
agriculture than Sir John, and since 1892, when he 
founded the Montrave stud of horses, he has been known 
as one of the most successful breeders of Clydesdales in 
Scotland. Sir John unsuccessfully contested East Fife as 
a Conservative in 1885, and as an upholder of the Union 
as against Irish Home Rule in 1892 and 1895. 

From 1160 to 1588 the Nunnery of North Berwick 
retained power over the lands of Aithernie. The Refor- 
mation practically brought an end to the Church's owner- 
ship, however, and on 20th March 1588 James VI. 
granted a charter secularising the property. With the 
consent of the prioress, Margaret Howe, the property was 
conferred on Sir Alexander Howe of North Berwick. 
Howe was a persona grata at the Court of James VI., and 
on more than one occasion was sent to England as an ambas- 
sador. He died without issue in 1G08. Aithernie was 
afterwards held by the Rigg family for a considerable 
time. In 1670 it passed into the hands of James Watson 
of Downfield, the son of a Provost of St Andrews. Mr 
Watson was succeeded by his eldest son, Alexander 
Watson, who married Margaret, daughter of David 
Lindsay of Edzell, remembered in tradition as " The 
proud Lady of Edzell." The author of the " Lives of the 
Lindsays " tells a touching story of the " proud lady." 
Her brother Dav id was as extravagant as his sister, and 
in 1714 he parted with his estates. Now for the story : 


" Years passed away, and the castle fell to ruin. The banner 
rotted on the keep the roofs fell in the plesaunce became a 
wilderness the summerhouse fell to decay the woods grew wild 
and tangled the dogs died about the place, and the name of the 
old proprietor was seldom mentioned, when a lady one day arrived 
at Edzell in her own coach, and drove to the castle. She was tall 
and beautiful, and dressed in deep mourning. When she came near 
the ancient burying-place, she alighted and went into the chapel, 
for it was then open ; the doors had been driven down, the stone 
figures and carved work were all broken, and bones lay scattered 
about. The poor lady went in, and sat down among it a' and wept 
sore at the ruin of the house, and the fall of her family, for no one 
doubted of her being one of them, though no one knew who she 
was or where she came from. After a while she came out, and was 
driven in the coach up to the castle ; she went through as much of 
it as she could, for stairs had fallen down, and roofs had fallen in, 
and in one room, in particular, she stayed a long while weeping 
sadly. She said the place was very dear to her, though she had 
now no right to it, and she carried some of the earth away with 
her. This was Margaret of Edzell, the Lady of Aithernie." 

While the Castle of Aithernie on the banks of Scooriie 
burn was tottering to its fall, the pockets of the laird and 
his "proud lady" became more and more empty, and they 
both died, pathetically-touching, poverty-stricken figures. 
Aithernie was acquired by Sir William Erskine of Torrie, 
and in 1836 was inherited with Lundin by his grandson, 
J. Erskine Wemyss of Wemyss. Aithernie and Lundin 
are now the property of Sir John Gilmour. Aithernie has 
not been occupied for nearly two centuries, and only a 
fragment of the old keep now remains. The ruined castle 
overlooks a pretty part of the glen. The glen has charms 
for the general tripper as well as the antiquarian. 

Kilmux lies in the north-west part of Scoonie parish. 
Away back in the middle of the eighteenth century, when 
the lands were included in the barony of Ballinbriech and 


the Earl of Rothes was the superior, the estate was 
divided into two Easter and Wester Kilmux. In 1832 
the two portions were united by Mr James Blyth Fernie, 
who built the mansion house of to-day. Mr Fernie was 
born in 1798, and was a leader of agricultural improve- 
ments in the " Kingdom.'' In his hands Kilmux became a 
model farm. His skill as an agriculturist was recognised 
in a practical way by his being employed all over the 
country 'in reference cases. Coal was first worked on the 
estate about 1780. Mr Fernie did not l>y any means con- 
fine his energies to agriculture. In 1835 he sunk a shaft 
to a depth of 54 fathoms and struck seams of coal varying 
in thickness from 6 inches to 5 feet 2 inches. In order to 
drain the mine of water a steam engine of 47 horse- 
power was erected a powerful pump for the times. 
Little or no coal has been worked at Kilmux for the past 
25 years. There is a good deal of coal in the district, 
however, and some day in the not far distant future 
Kilmux colliery may become the putting, restless work 
which it was more than half a century ago under the 
enterprising Mr Fernie. Mr Fernie died on 3rd April 
1858. The present proprietor is Mr David Ritchie, 

The Fife Coal Company's Works. 

The Fife Coal Company, Limited, commenced opera- 
tions on the Kinarchie Braes, overlooking the town of 
Methil, in 1877. A lease of the Pirnie field, which had 
been operated upon from 1867 by Messrs Meldrum & 
Birnie, was also obtained. Two pits were at first sunk on 
the field lying between Leven on the east and the Cross 
Roads on the west, but ultimately a third shaft was put 
down. Operations are continued in the old pit at Pirnie. 


In 1884 the Wellsgrcen Dysart Main fields were taken, 
and at Wellsgreen two shafts were put down. The fol- 
lowing ' are the coals worked in the Leven and Pirnie 
fields : 

Wall Coal, 2 ft. 4 in 114 fathoms in depth. 

Eight Feet Coal, 5 ft. 120 

Six Feet Coal, 4 ft. 128 ,, ,, 

Chemiss Splint Coal, 7 ft. 145 ,, ,, 

Parrot Coal, 24ft. 200 ,, ,,.', 

At Wellsgreen the Dysart Main and other seams have 
been operated upon to a considerable extent. The Leven 
colliery workings have extended to the chambers of the 
old workings at Kirkland. The water has been drained 
off the mines of more than a century ago, and the coal, 
which was abandoned because of a breakdown in the 
pumping machinery about 1780, is now being brought to 
the surface and placed upon the market. The Fife Coal 
Company was formed in 1872 with a comparatively small 
capital. To-day it is one of the finest coal combinations in 
the country. In addition to Leven, Pirnie, and Wells- 
green the Company operates on fields at Cowdenbeath, 
Kelty, Hill of Beath, Lochore, and Lumphinnans. The 
Company's output in 1872 was 70,000 tons. In 1904 the 
output was 2,648,563 tons. The Aitken pit at Kelty 
contributed as much as 495,576 tons to this total. Out of 
313 lawful working days coals were drawn at the pit for 
302 days. This gives an average of fully 1640 tons a day. 
There is nothing approaching such an output as this from 
any one pit in Scotland. The seams dip to the east, and full}; 
a mile to the east of the Aitken pit is the Mary, which is 
being sunk, and which will strike the Dunfermline splint 
seam at a depth of 350 fathoms. The share capital of 



the Company is 831,250 in <! shares 280,000 in 5 per 
cent, cumulative preference, and 551,250 in ordinary stock 
the <! shares in July 1905 standing on the market at 


Charles Carlow, Esq., J.P., flanaging Director, Fife Coal Co., Ld. 
nearly 5 per share. Mr Thomas Aitken, who is well 
known in commercial circles in Scotland, and who has 



been a Director since its formation in 1872, is the Chair- 
man of the Company, and Mr Charles Carlow is the 
Managing Director. Mr Carlow was born in the village of 
Methilhill, where he has founded reading and recreation 
rooms. Mr Carlow is Deputy-Chairman of the North 
British Railway Company, is a Director of the Royal 
Bank, and holds a position on the Boards of other coal 
and iron companies in Scotland. He is a Justice of 
Peace for Fifeshire. Mr W. Walker is Secretary of the 
Fife Coal Company ; Mr R. Gordon, Accountant ; and 
Mr B. Sutherland, Cashier. Mr Henry Rowan holds 
the position of General Manager, and Mr C. Augustus 
Carlow is Assistant General Manager. The Leven and 
Wellsgreen pits are under the immediate charge of Mr R. 
Kirk by. 


THE delightfully situated estate of Wemyss, or Wemyss- 
shire as it was anciently called, derives its name from 
the caves which are found on the shore within its bounds, 
the Celtic for cave being Uamh. The history of the 
parish is practically the history of the " Kingdom " in- 
deed the history of the Kingdom of Scotland. The caves 
or Weems, with their rude sculpturings. take us back to 
the period of the Roman invasion, perhaps further, while in 
the history of the Wemyss Family we have, as Sir William 
Fraser reminds us, one of the longest and purest of 
Scottish pedigrees, going back for seven centuries. Many 
members of the family held high office in the State in far- 
off days, and in the archives of Wemyss Castle there are 
documents which are of national as well as local interest. 
From time immemorial coal has been worked in the 
district, and the documents which have been preserved 
bearing on the great mining industry for centuries are to 
many as interesting as the papers which give us glimpses 
at the politics and the government of other days. 

The extreme length of the parish from south-west to 
north-east is about 5| miles, while its breadth varies from 
1 to 2 miles. In contradistinction to the sea-beach of 
Scoonie, the beach is bold and rocky. The parish is 
bounded on the east by Markinch and Scoonie, on the 
north by Kennoway and Mark inch, arid on the west by 



Dysart. The Government census returns only go back to 
1801, but according to returns drawn up by Dr Webster there 
were 3041 souls in the parish in 1755, and here is a fairly 
accurate return which was compiled for the minister of 
the parish in 1791 : 


West Wemyss, 

East Wemyss, 



East and West Coaltown, 

Kirklatvl, &c., 

Totals, - 
Totals in 1755, 






























In 1801 there were 3264 souls in the parish, and in 
1811 there were 3691. The following are the returns 
from 1821 : 










Innerleven, - 






Methil, - 










Buckhaven, - 










Beyond Burgh, 


East Wemyss, 










W. Wemyss, - 


























Methilhill, - 





Rural, - 










Totals, - 4057 5001 5403 5047 6003 G400 7307 10534 15031 
Since 1901 the village of Denbeath has sprung up, and 
at East Wemyss and other places there has been a big in the housing. In the spring of 1905 it was 
computed that the population of the parish could not be 
less than 18,000. 


The Valuation of the Parish. 

The following is a table showing the valuation of the 
parish of Wernyss since 1855-6 : 

1855-6, - 14,484 18 1885-6, - 34,328 7 4 




58,949 2 
102,121 4 

During the decade between 1855 and 1865 the valuation 
increased by 4733 5s 3d; between 1865 and 1875 the 
increase was 8227 Is 5d; 1875 and 1885 it was 6883 
4s 8d ; 1885 and 1895, 24,620 12s lOd ; and 1895 and 
1904-5 the increase amounted to 43,172 3s lOd. This, 
like the census returns of the parish, indicates abounding 

The Burgh of Buckhaven, Methil, and Innerleven. 

The villages of Buckhaven, Methil, and Innerleven, 
which lie on the shore between the river Leven and 
Macduff's Castle, were formed into a Police Burgh in May 
1891. On the date of the formation of the Burgh the 
combined population of the three places was computed at 
6000. During the decade which passed between 1891 and 
1901 the population rose to 8000, and this figure did not 


iclude the part of Buckhaven town which is beyond the 
jurgh boundary, and in which 828 people were resident. 
Fust after the taking of the census in 1901 the burgh 

jundary was extended at Methil so as to include Methil 

Jrae, and the change gave an addition of 600 people at 
the town of Methil. The following are the names of the 
Chief Magistrates, and the dates of their respective terms 
of office : Wm. Bowman Simpson, June 1891 to March 
1893 ; Wm. Greig, April 1893 to November 1895 ; Wm. 
B. Gillespie, November 1895 to November 1901 ; Wm. 
Greig, November 1901 to November 1904 ; R. G. E. 

7 emyss, appointed November 1904, and continues in 
office. Mr W. T. Ketchen, W.S., who is a native of Elie, 
has been Town Clerk of the Burgh since the date of its 
formation, while the duties of Treasurer are fulfilled by 
Mr David Robb, solicitor. 

Innerleven and Dubbieside. 

Innerleven has changed its name nearly as often as it 
has changed its industries. In some of the old Wemyss 
titles it is called Caldcoits or Innerleven ; in others it is 
referred to as Dubbieside ; and Lamont, in his " Chronicles 
of Fife," gives us yet a fourth name when he tells us that 
by the storm of November 1662, "a great pairt of my Lord 
r emyss' harbory, that he was building bewest the Salt- 
griene, was throwen down and spoilt." Of the four names, 
Dubbieside is the one which students of place names delight 
to hold by. 

The name Dubbieside takes us back to the days when 
the " Kingdom " was inhabited by a Celtic race, and when 
its localities were known by Celtic names. Dubhagan, in 




Gaelic, means a dark, deep pool, and, as Taylor in his 
"Historical Antiquities" reminds us, is truly descriptive 
of the deep, dark water where the Leven and the Forth 
meet, and which for centuries formed the ferry between 
Dubbieside and the town of Leven. Dubham is another 
Gaelic word which gives a further clue to the name. 
Dubham means a hook, and here we have a word which 
takes us back to the distant past when Dubbieside was a 

J. Patrick] 



fishing hamlet of a few huts. In early times, when 
Markinch Priory was the dominating religious institution 
of the parish of Markinch, the fish for the Priory were 
drawn from Dubbieside. The small fishing hamlet thus 
became thirled to Markinch, and it was only in 1891 that 
Innerleven became disjoined from the parish of Markinch 
and was thrown into the parish of Wemyss. 



Innerleven first comes into view historically in the days 
of Sir John Wemyss of Reres and Wemyss, When Sir 
John acquired the lands of Innerleven, he did so on terms 
which cast some light on the customs of the times. In 
1387 the lands of Innerleven belonged to Thomas of Inner- 
leven. Thomas it appears had become impecunious, and 
in October 1388 he, in presence of a notary and other 
witnesses, admitted that he had given up his rights, 
present and future, in Innerleven to Sir John Wemyss, for 
assistance given and to be given, especially in recovering 
the lands from the superiors for the use of Thomas. In 
these days the Church was generally the superior of the 
lands, and a pretty hard taskmaster the Church was, but it 
appears the Earl of Fife and Monteith was superior of 
Innerleven. In the " Wemyss Memorials," Sir William 
Fraser tells us that Sir John became bound to labour 
faithfully and diligently to recover the lands for the 
benefit of Thomas within the next two years. On this 
being done, Thomas became bound to resign the lands in 
favour of Sir John, and failing that to pay the sum of 40 
sterling with expenses. If Sir John failed to recover the 
lands within the two years, he was to pay a sum to 
Thomas. Sir John fulfilled his bargain to the letter, but 
on appearing within the prescribed time with his notary 
and demanding fulfilment of the agreement, Thomas took 
up the position of the " dog in the manger " and refused to 
carry out his part of the contract. A second endeavour 
on the part of Sir John to get Thomas to complete an 
honourable bargain was as fruitless as the first, and about 
six and a half years expired before Innerleven really 
became the property of Sir John Wemyss under a charter 


from the Earl of Fife. The charter of Innerleven to Sir 
John Wemyss also contained a grant of the Westhaugh 
of Scoonie. 

In the days of James VI., Sir John "Wemyss of that 
ilk, the first Earl of Wemyss, who in 1609 married Dame 
Jeane Gray, eldest daughter of Patrick Lord Gray, had a 
new grant of the barony of Methil to him and his wife. 
Besides the lands of Methil, this barony included the lands 
of Hill and Pirny, the superiority of Caldcoits, the half of 
Kilmux, and the office of Bailie of the river Leven, which 
among other dues yielded to the holder every ninth 
salmon caught in the stream, and entitled him to hold 
courts, appoint inferior officers, and deal with delinquents. 
The charter was granted by George Gledstanes, Arch- 
bishop of St Andrews, in 1611, some six years before the 
Laird of Wemyss was knighted by James VI., who in 
1617 made a pilgrimage through Fife. The Laird of 
Wemyss had a baronetcy conferred on him by Charles I. 
in 1626, and in 1628 the King conferred on Sir John the 
dignity and rank of a Lord of Parliament, by the title of 
Lord Wemyss of Elcho. In the days when Lord Wemyss 
was Bailie of the Leven, and could claim every ninth 
salmon caught in the stream, the water was not disturbed 
by either bleach works or distilleries, and the river abounded 
in trout and salmon. 


Dubbieside, like Methil, has seen a good many changes 
during the past thirty-five years. A great many of the 
houses where the click of the shuttle of the hand-loom was 
in the olden time heard have given place to modern 
dwellings, and the Caldcoits of other days is fast giving 


place to the Innerleven of to-day. Here and there on the 
beach and on the main street there are still a few examples 
of the outside stairs and the red roofs of two hundred 
years ago. One of the best examples of the seventeenth 
century dwellings stands at the entrance from Leven to 
Dubbieside. It is a long stretch of plain walls with 
forestair, with the front turned westwards, and the gables 
facing the south and the north. The date stone above the 
door- way bears the figures 1671. Just beyond this is 
Lawson's Square, which stands on the entrance to the 
Steep Wynd, which took the name of the " Dead Wynd." 
The Wynd was the highway to the Leven and Wemyss 
road, and took its name of " Dead Wynd " because it was 
the path along which the remains of residents were carried 
to their " long home " at Methilmill. 


George Outram, the talented author of " Legal and 
other Lyrics," who frequently played golf at Dubbieside, 
gives us the following glimpse of the village of 1850 : 

" The foam-flakes flash, the black rocks scowl, 
The sea-bird screams, the wild winds howl ; 
A giant wave springs up on high 
' One pull for God's sake ! ' is the cry : 
If struck, we perish in the tide 
If saved, we land at Dubbyside. 

O Dubbyside ! our peril's past, 

And bliss and thee are reached at last ' 

As sprang Leander to his bride, 

Half-drowned, so we to Dubbyside. 

What though we're drenched, we will be dried 

Upon thy banks, sweet Dubbyside. 


Are we in heaven, or are we here, 
Or in the moon, or Jupiter ? 
These velvet links, o' golfers rife, 
Are they in Paradise, or Fife ? 
Am I alive, or am I dead, 
Or am I not at Dubbyside ! 

Through Eden's groves there flowed a stream, 
And there its very waters gleam 
Its pebbly bed. its banks the same, 
Unchanged in all except the name 
Since Adam bathed in Leven tide, 
And Eve reposed at Dubbyside ! 

And still it is a blissful spot, 

Though Paradise is all forgot ; 

The fairies shower their radiance here, 

The rocks look bright, the dubs are clear ; 

Deem not that bush the forest's pride 

Remember you're at Dubbyside ! 

Is that an angel shining there, 
Or sea-nymph with her flowing hair, 
Or Neptune's pearl-embowered bride, 
Kissing the foam -bells of the tide? 

Tis neither angel, nymph, nor bride 

Tis Podley Jess of Dubbyside ! " 

History of the Church on the Links. 

Although the golf links and the hand-loom weaving of 
" sweet Dubbieside " have gone, the Dissenting Church 
still remains. The early history of the little church 
throws some light on the habits and character of the 
people who lived on both sides of the river Leven from 50 
to 200 years ago. 


After the Rev. Ebenezer Erskine and his colleagues 
met at Gairney Bridge in 1733 and took the step which 
brought the Associate Church into existence, the Praying 


Societies gradually cast in their lot with the Dissenting 
Church. Some of the Dissenters who were connected with 
the Praying Societies of Leven, Dubbieside, and Methil 
joined the Secession in 1738. Others followed in 1739, 
and in 1742 the Associates had a considerable accession to 
their ranks. When the Dissenting residents on the banks 
of the Leven first joined the Associate Church they cast in 
their lot with an Abbotshall congregation, and even with 
the accessions of 1739 and 1742 the disciples of the new. 
sect found that they formed such a small company that 
they did not dream of forming a Dissenting congregation 
for the district. They retained their connection with 
Abbotshall until 1744, when they joined the little church 
at Ceres. When the Burghers oath of 1745 was imposed 
by Parliament and the " breach " occurred in the Associate 
Church, the church of Ceres went over to the Anti-Burgher 
Synod, and most of the worshippers from Leven district 
went with them. In 1769 the Dissenters thought they 
were of sufficient strength to warrant them forming a 
congregation, and they applied to the Synod for dis- 
junction. On the plea that there was nothing to hinder 
them finding their way to Ceres every Sunday, the request 
was met by a negative. As a compromise, however, the 
Rev. Thomas Bennet, the minister of Ceres church, who 
was strongly opposed to the disjunction, was asked by the 
Synod to conduct services in the Leven district at least 
four times a year during the winter months. 


The Rev. Dr Mackelvie, the author of " Annals and 
Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church," says : 
"Matters continued in this state till 1793, when the mem- 


bers of the congregation of Ceres resident in Leven, Largo, 
and places adjacent were formed, under sanction of the 
Presbytery, into a separate congregation." The Rev. Jas- 
W. Drennan, one of the ministers of the Dubbieside 
church, rightly doubts the accuracy of Mackelvie's date as 
to the formation of a congregation. Under date 22nd 
February 1788, Mr Drennan found the following minute 
in the Manager's book: "The Session having met and 
reckoned accounts and found to be in Thomas Kirk's hand 
the sum of eleven shillings and elevenpence three farthings." 
At a meeting held in 1789, the congregation was found to 
be indebted to Thomas Kirk to the amount of 2s 7^d, 
" sterling money, errors excepted." The Dubbieside 
Session minutes only go back to 1828, but in a minute of 
the Session of Ceres, dated 6th June 1793, we are told 
that the names of 15 persons who desired to be disjoined 
from Ceres and annexed to that of Dubbieside were 
handed in, and the Session agreed to the request. Presby- 
tery dues were also paid as far back as 1781, and so far as 
can be gleaned from sidelights, one is justified in coming 
to the conclusion that the Dubbieside congregation was 
formed about 1780. For many years the pulpit was filled 
by itinerant preachers. It was only in Ma}' 1796 that 
the congregation met in Thomas Kirk's house and resolved 
to subscribe what each one could give " to have the Gospel 
in a fair way in this corner, and after subscribing, to 
petition the Presbytery for moderation and to offer fifty 
pounds of stiping every year." A call was given to the 
Rev. John Macdonald, Ireland, and the congregation, 
finding that their funds were " not strong," collected the 
necessary funds privately for presenting the minister with 
the customary " suit of clothes, hat, shoes, and stockings." 


The ordination dinner was purveyed by John Beatson, in 
the Methil, and here is a copy of the account : 

David Christy, a chopin of gin and ten backes, 030 

Mr Beatson's account for dinner, - - - 1 16 3 

David Christy, for house room, - - - 010 

Tent prepaired, - - - - - - 084 

Instruments taken at the Presbytery, - - 030 

To Mr Beatson's servant, trouble, - - - 010 

Borrowed cash, 210 


Dr Mackelvie says the church was built in 1794 ; but 
there is no mention of this in the accounts, although in 
1797 we are told that a subscription was made in order to 
put a "loft" in the church. From "Poems on Different 
Subjects," by William Rankine, Leven, which was pub- 
lished in 1812, we get some light on the building of the 
church. Rankine opens with a pen and ink sketch of the 
first minister, describes the building, and then the congre- 
gation. He thus writes of the minister : 

" Wi' solemn gloom his brow he deck't, 
An' joined a pious, haly sect ; 
An' now a flock was straying wide, 
An' he was sent that flock to guide. 
But how to get a house to hold them, 
That he might weekly stand an' scold them, 
Their want o' siller sair perplexed them, 
An' night an' day wi' torment vexed them. 

But what is't zeal cannot perform, 
When splinder new, an' piping warm 
A house which was the famed resort 
For every kind o' jovial sport, 
Hung round wi' dirty tousy pallets, 
An' crammed wi' beggars' mealy wallets, 
Of wham ilk night came here a score 
To drink, an' fight, an' curse, an' roar. 


How wond'rous now the alteration, 
Purged clean o' a' sic consternation, 
, That house were Clooty nightly ranted, 

To sighing saints it's walls has granted ; 
Where impious actions once abounded, 
The strains o' Zion now are sounded ; 
Where drunken discord shook the air, 
The groans o' haly love are there." 

The Rev. John Row, minister of the parish of Caruock, 
near Dunfermline, was one of the originators of the open- 
air Communion services which Burns gave the name of 
" Holy Fairs." Row was an uncompromising opponent of 
Episcopacy, and because of his non-conformity he was 
" confyned to his own congregation " by the High Com- 
mission of St Andrews. Row invited the ministers who 
had been deprived of their livings to Carnock every year, 
and people nocked to the gatherings which he organised 
from all parts of the "Kingdom." The open-air Com- 
munion services survived the deposition of the Bishops, 
but the services fell sadly from their " original state," and 
in 1785 they received a staggering blow from Burns in the 
greatest of all his satires, " The Holy Fair." Mr Mac- 
donald, the first minister of Dubbieside, was a believer in 
the open-air services, and at the very time Burns' poem 
was being recited in every town and village he instituted 
the series of tent-meetings through which thousands of 
people were for years brought together on the banks of 
the Leven. Rankine tries to catch the spirit of Burns in 
his reference to the open-air services. He says : 

" His stipend was but very spare, 
Nor had they means to mak' it rnair ; 
To mak' amends an' do nae wrang, 
His hoi}- fairs came thick and thrang, 
Which made the lads an' lasses run 
To shew their claes, an' taste the fun ; 


An' gin sic days brought pleasant weather, 
Platefu's o' bawbees he would gather ; 
An' sometimes feeling fowk, wha kend him, 
Wad hens, an' eggs, an' butter send him." 


The Managers' book shows that the poverty of the con- 
gregation did not keep them from doing princely acts. 
Mr Macdonald had assistance at the Communion gather- 
ings from many ministers outwith the district. The 
ministers were put up at the " manse," and the congrega- 
tion thoughtfully subscribed 4 towards Mr Macdonald's 
household expenses. In 1778 four labourers were engaged 
at the church for some days, and the following item shows 
that the toilers were regaled with the nappie ales which 
were so popular in far-off days : " To drinks for four men 
severally employed, Is 7d." Mr Macdonald resigned in 
1817, and went to Thurso. Two years elapsed before the 
congregation was able to call the Rev. William Harper 
from Kilmaurs. Mr Harper was ordained in April 1819. 
He died on the 16th October 1853, in the 35th year of his 
ministry. He was succeeded by the Rev. Andrew Nicol, 
who had itinerated as a probationer for 40 years. Mr 
Nicol was ordained on 13th February 1855, and demitted 
his charge on account of age and infirmities on 24th Sep- 
tember 1861. Successive calls were given to three minis- 
ters, but they declined to go to I)ubbieside. The Rev. 
Robert Fisher, from Perth, ultimately accepted, however, 
and was ordained on 19th January 1864. The flock suf- 
fered during the vacancy of three years, but despite this 
and the fact that the handloom was vanishing away, Mr 
Fisher took up work in the district with much pluck. 
Before many years had expired he had a manse built, and 


as soon as it was clear of debt he inaugurated a church 
building scheme. The church, which was built on the site 
of the old building and was opened in 1878, cost .1400. 
Mr Fisher resigned in 1880, and was succeeded by the Rev. 
James W. Drennan, M.Ai, who was ordained on 9th May 
1882, and who died in 1901. The Rev. H. W. Cochran 
came next, and after labouring in the district for two 
years left for South Africa. The Rev. Robert Ingles, the 
present incumbent, was ordained on 19th May 1904. Mr 
Inglis studied in Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Munich Uni- 
versities. He is an M.A. of Glasgow. 

When Mr Fisher left there was a debt of 400 on the 
church. To the credit of the congregation the debt was 
soon wiped off. In connection with the centenary celebra- 
tions of 1893, a scheme of renovation was carried through, 
and a debt of 400 incurred. Mr Ingles and his Session 
have decided to make an effort to clear oft' this adverse 
balance in the year of grace 1905. 


The firm of R. & D. Gibb have established a saltwork 
in Innerleven. It is the only remnant of the salt trade of 
other days. The Messrs Gibb commenced work at Methil 
in the seventies, but on the dock being extended they 
built a new work at Innerleven and stopped operations at 


Because of the changes brought about by a revival in 
the raining industry, Methil at first sight looks a place of 
yesterday. Yet the town has a history which goes back 
for centuries. As far back as the twelfth century, in the 
days of William the Lion, Michael of Methil and Wemyss, 
we are told, nourished in the district. Since the days of 
Michael, the Wernyss family have been closely identified 
with Methil, and the successive branches of the family 
have had a good deal to do with the industrial revivals 
which at intervals have come to the district like a tidal 
wave. The estate of Methil or Methkill a name derived 
from the Culdee cell or church which stood on the slopes 
of Methilinill was held by Michael under the bishops of 
St Andrews. Michael was succeeded by Sir John of 
Methil and Wemyss, and Sir James Fraser, in his ex- 
haustive work, which bears the title of " Memorials of the 
Family of Wemyss of Wemyss," tells us that the earliest 
known date at which Sir John appears on record as Sir 
John of Methil is the year 1212, when an important 
decision was given by the Bishop of St Andrews in con- 
nection with lands held by the Church between the burgh 
of St Andrews and Boarhills. John of Methil witnessed 
various charters of Malcolm, Earl of Fife, and he received 
the rank of knighthood between 1231 and 1240. David 
Wemyss, the son and heir of Sir John Wemyss of Reres 


and Isabel Erskine, was often styed the lord or laird of 
Methil, and he received a charter of the lands in 1424 to 
himself and his wife on their marriage from Henry 
Wardlaw, the Bishop of St Andrews. In 1575 John 
Douglas, Archbishop of St Andrews, created the lands of 
Methil into a barony called the Barony of Methil. Sir 
John Weruyss of that ilk, the first Earl of Wemyss, who 
succeeded to the estates in 1622, was the first to take up 
the development of the minerals at Methil, and from his 
time Methil figures very prominently in the papers of the 
Wemyss family. 

Sir John Wemyss had a strong scent for the treasures 
which lay hidden under the surface. He engaged an 
English boring engineer and had tests made in the hope of 
discovering coals on the various estates which belonged to 
the family of Wemyss. He was the first to discover coal 
at Methil, and he had some of the seams opened up. In 
the year before his death he wrote a document in which he 
gave instructions to his son, Lord Elcho, how to work the 
coalfields on the Wemyss estate. The Earl of Wemyss 
was also an extensive salt manufacturer. 

riethil as a Burgh of Barony. 

In 1572 John Douglas, Archbishop of St Andrews, 
created the lands of Methil, with its grain and "fuling" 
mills, and mill lands, Hill and Pirny, the superiority of 
Innerleven, and two parts of Little Kilmux, with the 
office of bailie and keepership of the water of Leven, to 
which was attached the duty of every ninth fish and other 
fees, into the barony of Methil. David, second Earl of 
Wemyss, attended the first Parliament of Charles II. in 
1661, and in 1664 he was summoned, as a Commissioner, 
by Archbishop Sharp to visit the University at St 



Andrews. This was the beginning of a close friendship 
between the Bishop and the Earl. The establishment of 
Episcopacy was followed by the restoration of the Church 
lands to the Bishops, and the Earl's barony of Methil once 
more came under the superiority of the See of St Andrews. 
The Earl maintained friendly relations with the Arch- 
bishop, and he obtained the erection of Methil into a free 



Methil from Bay view. 

burgh of barony, with a weekly market on Wednesdays, 
and two fairs in the year 22nd June and 27th December 
and the feu-duty he then paid for the barony was 20s 
Scots yearly. In 1665 the Earl raised the question of a 
regrant of the lands to himself and his heirs. Mr Patrick 
Scott of Langshaw, to whom the work of procuring the 
necpssary documents was entrusted, had a difficulty in 
getting the papers. In a letter to the Earl, Mr Scott 


states that the Archbishop's chamberlain had told him that 
there was more to be said than the payment of the " few- 
dutie," " that lykewayis thair behoved to be wryt gevin be 
your lordship for coalles yeerlie." The demand for coals 
"stumbled" Mr Scott, and it also "stumbled" the Earl. 
Despite this, the Earl sent the Archbishop a boatload of 
coals on the 20th September 1665, and seven days there- 
after the infeftment in the barony came. Earl David was 
proud of the documents when they did come, and in 
acknowledging their receipt he intimated to the Arch- 
bishop that he would send him a boatload of coals yearly. 

The Methil fairs began to be held in 1666, and the 
Countess of "Wemyss had much interest in them. She 
spent as much as 100 dollars on wares from the chapmen, 
and a horse race was, according to the custom of the times, 
inaugurated a saddle, a bonnet, and a pair of shoes being 
the prizes. So that Methil might become a place worthy 
of the title of a burgh of barony, he erected a cross. The 
cross, we are told by Lament, was built " beyonde James 
Lundy's howse in the linkes, not nire any howse, 5 steps 
high rownd abowt, and in the middst of it a long piece of 
wood standing up with a thane (vane) on itt, having Er. 
D.W. and C.M.W. cutt on the iyron." 

The Old Church of Methil. 

On 6th September 1582, John Wemyss and his heirs 
were appointed patrons of the rectory and vicarage of 
the Parish Church of Methil. There is no trace whatever 
of the church and rectory of these far-off days. When the 
Methilmill cemetery was being extended some years ago, 
the foundations of a building of considerable demensions 
were laid bare in connection with some excavations, and 
there can be no doubt that this was the site of the church, 


which very possibly dated back to the days of David I. 
In 1665, David the second Earl of Wemyss had some 
correspondence with the Archbishop regarding the Kirk of 
Methil. The Earl and his father had during the Pro- 
testant wave which followed the Reformation cheerfully 
given up their rights to the Kirk. The restoration of 
Episcopacy resuscitated the old rights, and the church was 
once more in the Earl's hands. In 1711, David third Earl 
of Wemyss obtained a charter of r^grant of all his estates, 
and the patronage of the church of Methil is mentioned 
among the lands for which a new charter was granted. 
Methil church from this date drops out of view historically, 
and the old church in East Wemyss becomes the ecclesias- 
tical centre for the parish. 

The Great Earl David's Coal Works. 

The first Earl of Wemyss was succeeded ly David the 
second Earl, who to this day is spoken of as the " Great 
Earl David." He carried out many improvements on his 
lands, and launched many big coal and salt work schemes. 
Earl David was not slow in taking the advice of his father 
about the minerals, and shortly after his succession he 
commenced an extraordinary scheme of development, for 
the times, at Methil. The mines of those days were all 
"in-going-eyes" run in from the sea shore or from the 
sides of burns and rivers, so that the water might run 
from the working faces to the " day " without the use of 
machinery. Earl David found coal cropping out in the 
glen of Denbeath, near Methil, and here he opened out 
what afterwards became "The Happy Mine." In a 
valuable MS. document which he left, written by his own 
hand, the Earl tells us that he had struck as many as 
seven seams of coal in the mine, while running through 



the rnetals for a distance of 600 fathoms. Writing in 
1671, the Earl says: 

"lam still working that level in stone with two men in it day 
and night, except Sundays. I give them 10s Scots a day, their 
bearers 4s Scots a day, the windles men get 6s Scots a day or night. 
I sharp their picks and furnish their candles." 

The mine was run through the strata all the way to 

The First Harbour at Hethil. 

Before he had proceeded to open up the " Happy 
Mine," the Earl recognised that the development of the 
minerals would be of little use without a harbour, and in 
1660 he applied to the King for power to proceed with the 
construction of a harbour. The royal sanction was duly 
forthcoming, and the Earl writes : " The King God bless 
him did give me a new gift to bould a herbure at Methill, 
1660." In the ensuing summer, 1661, the Earl commenced 
the work. Satisfactory progress was made for 18 months; 
but in November 1662 a terrible set back was experienced 
through a storm. Lamont thus chronicles the destruction 
caused to the new harbour of Methil : 

"A great part of my Lord Wemys new harboury, that he was 
building be-west the Saltgreine, was throwen downe and spoilt ; 
yea, some of the very foundation stones were turned up, so that 
some did report that ten thousand markes wold hardly make up his 
losse againe in it." 

The devastation caused by the storm did not paralyse 
the Earl of Wemyss. Within two years of the date of the 
catastrophe the harbour was finished. The Earl thus 
records in his diary the loading of the first boat at the 
harbour : 

" I was one 6 September 1664, 54 yeirs of eaydge. One 15 
September 1664, Andrew Thomsone in Leiuen did leade his botte 
in the new herbure of Methill, with colles from the colic of Methill, 


being 60 leades of colles, and he did tak them to Leith on 17 of 
September 1664, which was the first botte that didleade with colles 
att that herbure. The colls uas well loued att Leith, and since 
thorrow all sea ports in Scotland. I sould them then att 5 li the 12 
lodes and 2 sh. to the griue. I give 22d for uining them to the 
coller, and 1 sh. 2d to the Caller (driver) of them from the colle 
pitte to the herbure." 

There was no end to the Earl's enterprise,^ and within 
a year of the opening of the harbour he built two saltpans 
at Methil. "With," we are told, "a new howse, high and 
low, with divers rowms, att the said harbowr, the roof 
being a plaitforme." So as to give greater facilities foc r 
carting coals, a bridge was thrown across the Leven at 
Bassmill. The Earl's expenditure on the harbour and 
other works amounted to 100,000 Scots, and the follow- 
ing entry in the diary is interesting, inasmuch as it gives 
the detailed expenditure connected with the other works: : 

I must tell you what thes works has beine to m^. since 2 May 
1662, that I begoude the herbure or peire of Methill to this 2 Febr. 
1677, being many yeirs. The stone herbure uas thrisse ouir 
throwin or I gott itt to any perfectione, and it hes beine to me 
40,000 lib Scotts to this day, 2 Feby. 1677 "Wes." Then the 
mynd for to drye the 7 colles uas 30,000 lib ; then the boulding of 
7 pans and ther patts 20,000 ; then the gritte doubell housse, and 
the horsse work that uas 5 yeirs one colle att' the Hill of Methrlle 
or the mynd was wrought, cost 10,000 lib " Wemyss." 

The Earl left numerous documents behind him bearing 
on the mineral resources and developments. A short time 
before his death he " sett doune the trew conditions of all his 
colles " in his diary, " so that his posteritie may know how 
he left them." He says : " It is weil known that I leaue 
them many good colles att West Wemyss, and also att 
Methill, 7 ther; uhich colles serves the most part of Fife 
by land." 


Glimpses at Coal Working in Eighteenth Century. 

David third Earl of Wemyss succeeded to the estates 
in 1705, and died in 1720. He was born in 1678. He 
inherited all the enterprise of his grandfather. 

In 1700, Andrew Mellville, M.D., offered to improve 
the coal workings at Methil and Kirkland, and, as the 
result of various meetings, Lord Elcho handed over the 
control of the mining operations and the superintendence 
of the transit of the coals to this medical man. On his 
succession to the estates, however, his lordship once more 
assumed the command of the coal workings and their 
connections with the Methil harbour. Miners in those 
days were slaves. They were adscripti yleba>,, or slaves of 
the soil, and were liable to be sold with the colliery, or 
handed over on loan by one coalmaster to another. 

We have an illustration of the condition of the miners of 
Wemyss in the days of Lord Elcho in a document which 
lies in the Womyss charter chest. The document takes 
the form of an acknowledgment by Mr Christopher Seton, 
brother of the Earl of Winton, of having received on loan 
from David Lord Elcho the persons of six colliers and 
eleven bearers, all belonging to Lord Elcho, who were to 
be employed at Tranent, at Lord Winton's colliery, so long 
as Lord Elcho had no use for them in the parish of 
Wemyss. Lord Winton obliged himself to re-deliver the 
miners and bearers on demand. The document is dated 

The system of lending miners was not by any 
means confined to the Wemyss estate. In a Dunfermline 
Corporation minute it is stated that the Earl of Rothes 
sent a letter to the Town Council asking for the loan of 


two colliers, and the Council " warranted the Bailies to 
lend to the Earl David Murgain and George Brown, upon 
the Earl's bond to restore them upon demand without 
expense. And in case Lady Pittencrief wants William 
Watson, warrants the Bailies to lend Watson to her." 

James fourth Earl of Wemj'ss did not take a pro- 
minent part in the politics of the day ; but he took an 
active oversight of his salt and coal workings. From 
the voluminous correspondence which he leaves behind 
him it appears that, although the salters and miners 
were practically slaves, they could sometime^ give a good 
deal of trouble. In a letter written from Norton, 
Durham, to his factor, Lord Wemyss says : 

" Since these tenants are so stubborn that they won't coall the 
pans without their own price, I know no other way than first to 
protest against them for damnadgos done me by their not working, 
and then to cause Baily Malcolm hold a Court on Munday, and 
any who stand indebted to me by the list, of rests to throw him in 
prison untill he pay'd, and to break one of their tacks to deterr 
them from doing so in the future. I think all the salt that's lost by 
the pans not going should be stated to their account." 

Further correspondence shows that when an arrest of 
one of the salters was attempted, the officer was deforced. 
The miners at the same time were giving trouble. In one 
of his letters the Earl says : 

" Don't forgett to write the name of the coallier and his wife 
which run away from Methill a few days before I left home, and 
desire William Forbes to search for them at Pinkie, and for Lindsay, 
and gett them over." 

It is impossible to say whether William Forbes was 
successful in his quest for the collier and his wife arid 
Lindsay ; but it is apparent from the correspondence which 
follows that the Earl and his managers did not then set 


over their labour troubles. About a year later he writes 
as follows : 

, " I do not see you had any occasion to delay requireing back 
stragled ooalliers till you had advis'd with the commissioners, for 
that was a strict charge given you to look after them, and in 
consequence of the coall propritors meeting at Edinburgh ; there- 
fore the moment a coallier leaves his work he ought to be sent after 
immediately, otherwise it gives him time to get into England, 
where he can never be recovered. And when the grieves don't 
.represent this to you in time, they ought to suffer for it. Besides 
the coalliers, their children should be all look't after and sett to 
work below ground when capable, and not allowed to hirr'd cattle, 
or go to service, as many of them have done, and I wish may not 
be the case as yett. And if you see it for my benefitt, and that 
there's work and room for more people below ground, why don't 
you gett some of Balbirny's coalliers, who are now in different 
parts of the country, and nobody's property. Pray are Alexander 
Leslie's and Thomas Lumsden's children now working at the coall 
work ?" 

In another letter written from Norton, Lord Wemyss 
says, just as he was finishing his note, William Cairns, a 
sailor, who lived at Campveer, brought him a present of 
chocolate, and ask't the favour of credit for ten dozen 
coalls. He is, the Earl proceeds, " Archibald Cairns, 
Methlll coallier's son, and I suppose has elop't from the 
works. However, as the lad has been long absent, I could 
not discourage him by refusing his demand." 

nethil Coals seized by Government. 

In 1722, an incident occurred beyond the Isle of May 
which brought a protest from the Earl of Wemyss, and 
throws some light on the export trade then done in Methil 
coals. A Dutch laden ship was seized by the Custom 
House authorities, taken to Burntisland and detained. 
The Earl wrote the Commissioners stating that in conse- 
quence of a gift from the crown, granted as early as 1330, 


"he had been in the possession of granting coquets, 
searching all ships, and of ane exemption and freedom of 
paying any duty upon coal from the harbour of Methil," 
and that as well before the Union as since that time. The 
Earl also argued that the Treaty of Union accepted and 
reserved all special rights of exemption enjoyed by persons 
in either kingdom. The exemption enjoyed by the Earl 
applied only to coal drawn from his own collieries, and no 
claim had ever been set up for merchandise. The Earl's 
arguments for a continuance of the exemption sound 
extremely like the arguments used by coalmasters 
to-day in connection with the coal tax. He stated 
that he and his late father had expended large sums 
of money in connection with their coal works, and had 
entered into contracts with Dutch merchants, and had 
worked out a considerable trade with other foreign ports. 
Tf the privilege was to be infringed, the Dutch would be 
driven to trade with other countries, and irretrievable 
injury inflicted on the Wemyss coal trade. The trade, it 
was further set forth, if once diverted would not easily be 
recovered, " as by experience was found when ane inter- 
ruption was made by the privateers on the coast during 
the late war." 



(By permiggitn <if Mcwx Huntinc iO Mitchell.) 
nethil Dock 


Methil Dock of To-Day. 

Robert Louis Stevenson writes somewhere of the 
" flight of time and the succession of men." In the " flight 
of time and succession of men," Methil has, seen a good 
many changes. It is worthy of note that the biggest 
change of all has been experienced during the past 35 
years. Writing in 1789, the Rev. George Gibb says : 

" A waggon way of two miles from the pits at Kirkland to 
Methil has just been completed, and everything promises an ex- 
tensive trade .... It would not be at all surprising to see in 
a few years Methil rank among the first coal ports of Scotland." 

Before Mr Gibb's notes had been put in print, oper- 
ations had been entirely suspended at the Kirkland pits. 
In 1803, the east pier at Methil was ruined by a strong 
gale. In 1815, General Wemyss was fully alive to the 
necessity for reconstruction, and he applied to the 
Government for a loan of 5000 or a partial grant of 
money towards the improvement of the harbour. In his 
letter to the Government the General pointed out that the 
harbour had been built by private enterprise one hundred 
years previously, and while the Wemyss family derived no 
revenue from the use of the harbour, the Government 
drew custom-dues annually from tire port for salt alone 
amounting to from 8,000 to 10,000. A direct negative 
was returned to the appeal. The harbour remained in its 
wrecked state until 1838, when -1,800 was spent on 
repairs. At this time there was really little to justify a 
big expenditure on the harbour. With the withdrawal of 
the salt tax, the staple industry of Methil received a 
terrible blow, and one by one the salt pans were stopped. 
By 1830 there was left a range of buildings which only 
depressed people who could look back on the days when 


the windmills and the seawater pumps of the pans were 
in almost perpetual motion. At one time it looked as if 
the fallen fortunes of the village were to be retrieved by 
shipbuilding, and by the manufacture of oil ; but, alas ! 
neither industry stayed, and in the sixties the traffic at 
Methil harbour consisted principally cf an occasional cargo 
of parrot from the Methilhill district and the imports and 
exports for the Kirkland spinning and linen manufacturing 

In 1864, when Messrs Bowman & Company com- 
menced operations at Muiredge Colliery, Methil was a 
ramshackle place. The coals were at first driven in carts 
from Muiredge pits to the harbour, and shipped in boats of 
from 50 to 200 tons. The carts ultimately gave place to a 
horse waggon-way from the pits through Muiredge den, 
and when the output of coals had increased, horses gave 
place to a locomotive. By 1880, the Fife Coal Company 
were drawing a considerable output of coals from the 
Leven pits, and with developments at Muiredge and Leveri 
collieries, Methil changed rapidly crumbling walls and 
red roofs and outside stairs disappeared at every turn. 

Between 1870 and 1880 the coal output of Fife was 
doubled, and being fully alive to the necessity for greater 
facilities for shipping coals, Mr R. G. E. Wemyss of 
Wemyss Castle resolved upon the construction of a dock 
at Methil. In his scheme he had every encouragement 
from the Fife Coal Company and Messrs Bowman it 
Company, who guaranteed to ship a certain amount of coals 
annually. Mr Wemyss only reached his majority in 1879, 
but really before he'was of full age and legally entitled to 
act for himself he had obtained the sanction of his curators 
for the expenditure of 25,000 on the Thorn ton- Buck- 


haven Railway. This was followed by the purchase of the 
Leven Dock at a cost of 12,000 and the launching of a 
scheme for the construction of a dock at Methil involving 
an expenditure of 100,000. In the days of Earl David, 
Methil harbour was the best shipping port in the east of 
Scotland. To-day, Methil Dock is the greatest coal 
shipping port in this part of the country. History does 
not content itself in bringing back the dignity which 
Methil enjoyed as a port in the seventeenth century, but 
it gives us a dock to-day which originated with a direct 
descendant of the man who was in touch with Archbishop 
Sharp ; and who sent the Archbishop " a few coalles, the 
best that the coalle of Methil can afford," for his kind- 
ness in confirming Earl David's right to " Methil toune 
and harbour." 

How much the Fife coalfields have made Methil dock 
and Methil dock has made the Fife coalfields will be 
apparent when it is stated that in 1877 ten years before 
the dock was opened the mineral output of the county 
was not more than one and a half million tons a year, and 
there were not more than 6000 people employed in and 
about the pits. Although trying trade times were ex- 
perienced during the next decade, considerable develop- 
ments were witnessed at several collieries, and in 1887 the 
8500 people engaged at the pits produced 2,585,412 tons of 
coal and other minerals. The wages of the miners of Scot- 
land are based on the rates ruling in 1888 wages to this 
day rise and fall on the 1888 basis. 1888 was one of the 
most trying years experienced in modern mining for 
masters and men, and wages fell to the low figure of 4s 
per day. Coals would not sell at a price nearly equal to 
that drawn by Earl David for the first cargo he shipped 



from his new harbour at Methil 5 Scots for twelve loads 
and the output of Fife, like the output of other coal 
producing counties in Scotland, showed a shrinkage. The 
minerals produced reached a total of 2,459,395 tons, a 
decrease of 126,017 tons. This was a had start for the 
Methil dock, but happily a change for the better came in 
1889, and with the exception of 1894, when operations 
were suspended at the pits of Scotland for seventeen long 
weeks over a wages dispute, the record since then has been 
one of uninterrupted progress. 

In 1897 just a decade after the dock was opened 
the output was 4,152,173 tons, and something like 12,000 
people were employed. In 1904, when 18,424 people were 
at work above and below ground, the record output was 
touched of 6,586,154 tons. The following table shows the 
coal shipments from Methil from the date the gates were 
thrown open and the first steamer entered, and the coal 
output for Fife for the same period : 


Coals shipped 
at Methil. 

Coal output 
of Fife. 

















* 527,565 






















Minors on strike for seventeen weeks. 



There is an inner and an outer clock. The inner dock, 
which covers an area of 4| acres, was acquired by the 
North British Railway Company from Mr Wemyss. The 
Company had riot had control of the undertaking for 
many years when they came to the conclusion that a big 
extension was necessary, and they forthwith set to work 
and made the new or outer dock, which covers something 

riethil Dock. 

like 6| acres, and which was opened in 1897. At high 
water in ordinary spring tides there is 27 feet of water on 
the cill, and it is no uncommon thing to see from twenty 
to thirty steamers of from 1000 to 4000 tons burthen, and 
many small sailing vessels, in the docks and roads. Arm- 
strong, Whitworth & Co.'s famous hydraulic hoists are in 
operation on both docks, and it is nob unusual for as much 
as 2,000 tons of coal to be handled at any of the six hoists 


in operation within twenty-four hours. An effective 
installation of the electric light pierces its way into every 
corner of the docks, and coals are handled with as much 
facility at midnight as they are in a noonday sun. The 
empty waggons are whisked from the cages of the hoists on 
to high-level runaway rails, and in time they reach the 
respective sidings on what an employee at the dock 
suggestively speaks of as " their own feet." There are 
miles of sidings ; there are thousands of loaded and empty 
waggons; and night and day we have the perpetual puff of 
steam, and the sharp piercing whistle of locomotives. The 
organisation is wonderful. What a striking contrast the 
Methil of to-day presents to the old Burgh of Barony when 
its cobble-stoned streets echoed and re-echoed to the feet of 
Earl David of Wemyss, or the tumble-down, depressing 
Methil of 45 years ago, wheiiuthe shipments consisted of a 
" wee puckle parrot coal," and an occasional barrel of 
herrings. The docks and their fixtures cost something 
like half-a-million pounds sterling. 

An Interesting Incident. 

The Rev. Dr Harry Spens was minister of the parish of 
Wemyss from 1744 to 1780, when he took up the 
Professorship of Divinity in St Andrews. In 1770, during 
his incumbency, a case was called in the Court of Session 
which brought Methil prominently before the country. It 
appears that a gentleman who had taken up residence in 
Methil from the West Indies, had brought with him a 
negro servant who had been his slave. During his 
residence in Methil the slave embraced the Christian 
religion, and on 10th September 1769 was publicly baptised 
in the Parish Church of East Wemyss, taking the name of 
David Spens. The action of the slave does not seem to 


have had the approval of the West India merchant, and 
he resolved to send him back to the West Indies, selling 
him to another master. Spens was delighted with the 
freedom he had had in the bracing village of Methil, and 
having had an inkling of his master's intention, he left him, 
and took up his abode with a farmer in Wemyss parish. 
The desertion resulted in the master raising a process in 
the Court of Session praying that Spens should be ordained 
to return to his slavery, and against the farmer for advis- 
ing the foreigner to desert, and for affording him protection. 
What added importance to the action is the fact that it was 
the first case raised in England or Scotland in which it 
was judicially asserted that although slavery was allowed 
to exist in the British colonies, a slave was free the instant 
he set foot on British soil. In the parish a great amount 
of interest was taken in the case, and a large sum of 
money was raised to enable Spens to defend what were 
considered to be his just rights and privileges as a British 
subject. The case was enrolled for January 1770. Four 
lawyers were engaged for the slave, and the case was 
debated on 2nd February 1770. Memorials were ordered 
to be given in by both parties, but before another stage 
had been reached the master died and the case was dropped. 
A most creditable feature in connection with the case is 
the fact that the four advocates and solicitor who were 
engaged for the defender refused to accept any fee for 
their services. With the collapse of the case the slave 
obtained his freedom, and he returned to the parish of 
Wemyss to do good work for the kindly farmer who had 
espoused his cause. The action of the miners and salters 
and agricultural labourers in the parish of Wemyss in 
subscribing for the defence of the slave must appear all the 


more creditable when it is kept in mind that in 1770 the 
miners and salters were- not far removed from serfdom. 
What is known as the Emancipation Act was only passed 
in 1774, and it was after all a half-hearted measure. 
The preamble set out with the frank statement that 
" Many colliers and coal-bearers and salters are in a state 
of slavery and bondage, bound to the collieries and salt 
works where they work for life, transferable with the 
collieries and salt works when their original masters have 
no further use for them." The statute provided that after 
1st July 1775 no person beginning to work as a collier, 
coalbearer, or salter was to be bound in any other way 
than other servants ; but boys and men who were engaged 
at the mines or at salt works before the passing of the Act 
were left as they were for a certain number of years. 
Complete emancipation only came in 1799, and how much 
the Act of 1774 failed of its purpose will be evident when it 
is stated that the Act of 1799 opened with the words 
" Many colliers arid coal-bearers still continue in a state of 

The Salt Pans of the Olden Time. 

At one time salt was a national industry in Scotland. 
The principal seats of the industry were the shores of the 
Firth of Forth the coal and the sea supplying the 
necessary conditions for its manufacture. The southern 
shores of the Forth, from Prestonpans to Portobello, were 
studded with pans and bucket patts, and at Pittenweem 
and St Monans, and from Leven to Kirkcaldy and from 
Charleston to Kincardine on the north side, the collieries 
and salt works were so numerous that they led James VI. 
to compare the ancient " Kingdom " to " A beggar's mantle 
with a fringe of gold." How much the coal industry 


depended on the salt trade is brought out by an incident 
which happened in the days of Charles I. Some stupid 
people, who were evidently afraid that the salt trade would 
lead to the early exhaustion of the coal supplies, presented 
a petition to Charles praying that the export of Scotch 
salt should be " limited to a small quantity, saleable 
only to a few persons " The Magistrates of the city 
of Edinburgh were wise in their day and generation and 
inaugurated opposition to the proposal, with the result that 
the Privy Council took up the matter, and in a letter 
addressed the King as follows : " Without the benefit of 
the salt these sumptuous water-works and mines required 
for maintainance and winning of the coal cannot be upheld, 
and which being forsaken but for a month the coal must 
perish, never in any age to be regained." The Council, 
says Mr Hume-Brown, also represented that half of the 
shipping of the " kingdom " was employed in the export 
of coal and salt, and they pleaded with Charles not to 
strike a deadly blow at the " mutual freedom of trade " 
which his father had maintained with "princely care." 

Writing in 1662, Lament speaks of the " Saltgriene " of 
Methil, and in the interesting MS. documents which he 
left behind him David the second Earl of Wemyss tells us 
that in 1665 two new saltpans were constructed, and at 
the same time there was built " with them a new house, 
high and low, with divers rowms at the harbowr, the 
roofe being a plaitforme." In another note the Earl states 
that the " seven pans and ther patts " at Methil cost 
20,000 lib. Scots. The salt pans of Methil were ultimately 
extended to nine, and how much they figured in the 
industrial life of Methil will be apparent when it is stated 
that in 1815, when General Wemyss applied to Govern- 


ment for a grant of 5000 towards the improvement of 
the harbour, he stated the Government drew annually 
from 8000 to 10,000 as customs dues for salt alone. 
With the withdrawal of the salt tax in 1825, and the 
discovery of the rock salt mines in England, the whole 
aspect of things soon became changed along the shores of 
the Firth of Forth. Operations were suspended at work 
after work, the waves were allowed to play at their own 
" sweet will " in the bucket patts, and very many of the 
pans and " salt-girnels," which had formed the storehouses 
for the daily output of the once prosperous works, were 
deserted and allowed to decay. Methil shared the same 
fate as many of the burghs and villages on the banks of 
the Forth. 

The reports on the salt works by the ministers who 
wrote on the parish in the " Old " and the " New Statistical 
Accounts" present a striking contrast. Writing about 
1790, the Rev. George Gibb says : 

" There are nine salt works at Methil, and seven at West 
Wemyss. These works have been long carried on, and much salt 
is made at them both for land sale and exportation." 

Writing in 1838, the Rev. John M'Lachlan says : 

" At Methil, where there were formerly nine salt pans, there 
are now none ; and at West Wemyss, where there were formerly 
seven, there are only two, and at present one of them is not work- 
ing. 6,200 bushels may be about the annual average of salt made 
for the last three years, the average annual value of which may be 
470. This forms at once a very striking contrast to the quantity 
of salt made in this parish previous to the abolition of the salt 
duties. In 1818, 1819, and 1820, the annual average sale of salt at 
West Wemyss and Methil was 50,400 bushels. The salt made here 
is excellent, and obtains a ready market. " 

The salt made in the district had all the merits claimed 
for it by Mr M'Lachlan, but it did not find a " ready 


market " at the price it was possible to produce it for, and 
hence it was that at the very time he was writing the old 
Burgh of Barony was living on the memory of days when 
it was a busy and thriving place, with whirling windmills, 
smoking salt pans, and a busy harbour. 

The Haunt of " Thrummy Cap." 

The "Gritte Doubill Housse " which the Earl of 
Wemyss built on the harbourhead had ceased to be the 
"salt house" it had once been, and in Mr M'Laohlan's 
days had become the haunt of " Thrummy Cap " Methil's 
ghost the spirit of a Dutch wood contractor, who had 
often journeyed with wood to Methil and who had failed 
to get an account squared with one of his Fife patrons. 
For many long years the spirit of the Dutch merchant 
made periodical visits to the " Salt-Girnel " of Methil and 
presented the unsettled account. The visits from the 
unseen world have ceased. Some say that " Thrummy " 
ultimately had the satisfaction of having his promissory 
note met with golden guineas, but people who believe 
in the spiritual dictum that we brought nothing into the 
world and can take as little with us, do not hesitate to say 
that the busy Methil port of to-day is not a place for 
ghosts, and that when the first blast of a steamer's horn 
was heard, the visitor from the dim beyond took his fare- 
well. And so the present generation have as little dread 
of " Thrummy Cap " as they have of Bailie Malcolm, 
who in 1725 was called upon by the lord of the manor to 
punish the salters who refused to " coall " the pans and to 
lay by the heels the miners who attempted to run away. 

Two Glimpses of Methil. 

Barbieri, who visited Methil in 1856, says : 
"It is an ancient and decayed place. It has a better harbour 


on the Forth than any in the neighbourhood. Population, 530. 
Many of its houses are in ruins, and its trade is nearly gone. It 
seems to be the shrivelled up skeleton of a once important place." 

Barbieri is brutally frank in his criticisms of the 
manners, customs, and villages in Fife, and in his desire to 
find fault he often overlooks redeeming features. He has 
not a single word to say for the links and the game of 
golf, and evidently failed to recognise that the people were 
struggling to the best of their ability with an ebbing 
industrial tide. The Rev. Peter M'Ainsh, who came to 
Leven after the Disruption as the missionary under the late 
Mr Forman, spent a good deal of time for several years 
in Methil, and at a bazaar held two years ago, in con- 
nection with Methil United Free Church, he gave us the 
following glimpse at the village of fully half a century 

" Fifty years had passed last May since he began his labours as 
preacher in connection with Methil Mission. Fifty years were a 
long look back, and the Methil of 1853 was very different from the 
Methil of 1903. He could scarcely realise he was standing in 
Methil. If time had permitted he would have told them some- 
thing of the Methil of 1853 of its beautiful clean harbour ; of its 
venerable buildings, many of them two storeys in height with out- 
side stairs ; the frank furthy folks, with always a kindly welcome 
to the minister ; of the beautiful links to the east and to the west, 
and of the comfortable meeting-place, known as the ' Salt-ftirnel. ' 
Its floor was strewn with sawdust ; it had beautiful chandeliers ; 
its pulpit was covered with blue cloth, fastened with brass nails, 
and there were two rows of seats with backs. He gathered 7 for 
those seats. They had forenoon and evening services and Sunday 
school. People came from Leven, Dubbieside, Kirkland, and 
Buckhaven to the evening meetings. The gatherings in the ' Salt- 
Girnel'.were the origin of the Free Church, now the United Free 
Church, of Methil." 

The " Salt-Girnel," like " Thrummy," has vanished. 
The dock and railway occupy the site of many of the two- 


storeyed, red-roofed houses, the " Sandy Wynd " and 
" Beatson's Close " are so very greatly changed that if 
" Thrummy " were to come back to Methil he would lose 
himself. The old dominies, Mr Boon and Mr Steven, can 
only be spoken of by a few links with the past, and " The 
Crown," where the nappie ale of old was kept, and the last 
green at Jenny Nicol's well, where many a keen game of 
golf was decided, are no longer with us. In this restless 
age all is change. The Methil of to-day presents a striking 
contrast to the Methil of 1860. It seems but yesterday 
since Peter Ballingall and Peter Graham stood in the 
" Sandy Wynd " and declared that the Wynd was hence- 
forth to be known as Commercial Street. And Com- 
mercial Street ib is. Short as the interval has been, 
Methil has sprung from a mere village to a town of nearly 
3000 inhabitants. 

The Established Church 

can scarcely be ranked among the modern buildings. As 
far back as 1582, Sir John Wemyss was appointed patron 
of the rectory and vicarage of Methil. Methil ultimately 
dropped out of sight as an ecclesiastical station, and after 
a hiatus of many years it again appears in the church 
records of the district, through an appeal to the Kirkcaldy 
Presbytery to erect a mission station in the village. A 
local committee and the Presbytery took up the work with 
zeal, and in 1838 a church was opened at a cost of 1200. 
The foundation stone was laid in June 1837. At first it 
was difficult to get probationers to go and labour in 
Methil, and as the result there were a good many holidays. 
In 1840, however, Mr John Wilson took up duty as a 
missionary, and was succeeded by Mr James Duff. Mr 
Duff was succeeded in 1857 by Mr James Morrison, 


through whose labours in 1876 the church was raised to 
the dignity of a quoad sacra. On the death of Mr Morrison, 
the Rev. A. Aytoun Young was called to the charge. On 
Mr Young's departure to Clunie, Perthshire, in 1891, Mr 
Thomas Muir, the present incumbent, was called to Methil. 
Mr Muir was educated at Glasgow University, graduating 
M.A., B.D. 

The United Free Church. 

As far back as 1850, services wei-e now and again con- 
ducted in the " Salt-Girnel " at Methil by Free Church 
students. In 1882, when the place showed signs of 
permanent growth, Mr Robertson, now Dr Robertson 
of the City Temple, London, took up regular work in 
the district. Other students followed, and in 1892 
Methil was conceded the status of a mission station. Mr 
R. Francis took charge of the station, and within two 
years the station was erected into a regular charge. The 
church was built in 1890, at a cost of 700, and 
in 1902-3 an extension was made at a cost of fully 800. 
Mr Francis was educated at Glasgow University. 

The Seamen's Institutes. 

If there are any buildings in the town which strike one 
more than others, these are the German Mission station in 
Durie Street, and the Scottish Coast Mission's " Seamen's 
Bethel " in Dock Street. On Methil giving promise of 
being a place which would be visited annually by many 
German seamen, a missionary began to make periodical 
visits from Leith. In 1898, the heads of the German 
Church in Edinburgh and Leith arranged for a missionary, 
and Herr Voss was accordingly sent to the " Kingdom." 
In May 1900, the building which bears the inscription 
" Deutches Seemanshaus " was opened at a cost of 750 


It is now upwards of eleven years since the Scottish 
Coast Mission commenced services among the seamen at 
Methil. A building fund was inaugurated three years 
ago, with the result that the Bethel was opened in 
September 1904, at a cost of fully 800. Mr Boyd, who 
has charge of the Mission under the auspices of the 
parent society, has been fully six years in Methil. 

Pastor Storen, Leith Norwegian missionary, pays fre- 
quent visits to Methil, and conducts services in the Bethel 
in Dock Street among sailors hailing from " The Land of 
the Midnight Sun." 

Some Industries. 

The Methil Engineering Company, Limited, was 
formed in the beginning of 1900, and in May of that year 
they commenced operations in the spacious works which 
run along High Street and Wemyss Place. The Company 
employ from 15 to 20 hands, and make a specialty of 
steam winches and ship repairing. Mr Chas. A. Jackson 
is the general manager of the concern. Messrs Buchan & 
Duncan, engineers and shipwrights, first commenced work 
in the saltworks to the west of the dock. The works they 
now occupy overlook the dock, and were built in 1902. 
Mr Donald Rose's steam joinery is one of the best 
appointed works in the country. House building is the 
trade he has concentrated his energies upon since he com- 
menced business in 1891. 


The village of Methilhill is situated on the top of the 
hill beyond the town of Methil, and it was undoubtedly 
the situation which crave rise to the name. Writing in 


1677, Earl David of Wemyss writes of the hamlet which 
then rested ou the " Hill of Methille," where the " Mhynd 
was wrought costing 10,000 lib." The present pit at 
Methilhill dates back to 1869, when it was in the hands of 
Mr Binney, with the late Mr J. W. Kirkby as manager. 
In 1878 the Pirnie field was taken over by the Fife Coal 
Company. Since the opening of the pit, parrot coal has 
been the principal mineral gotten, but now the Bowhouse 
seam is being worked. Parrot coal was worked at Methil- 
hill long before 1868, and some of the houses date back 
for centuries. It was one of the older houses which Mr 
Charles Carlow, the managing director of the Fife Coal 
Co., in 1902 transformed into an Institute as a memorial 
of his late father and mother, who were natives of the 
parish of Wemyss. Reading and recreation rooms are 
provided in the building. 


The village of Kirklancl is situated on the banks of the 
Leven, about a mile to the north of Methil. There is no 
village in the neighbourhood which has seen more industrial 
changes. In the sixteenth, the seventeenth, and the 
closing days of the eighteenth centuries, the rattle of the 
pit machinery common to early times provided an accom- 
paniment to the noise which came from the rush of the 
River Leven ; as time went on the pits were stopped, and 
instead of mining, the staple industry of the village became 
that of linen manufacturing, flax spinning, and bleaching. 
Time came when the rattle of the power-loom became as 
silent as the hand-loom, spinning and bleaching ceased, and 


the residents of the "New Toun" as well as the "Auld 
Toun " were forced to look mournfully on the past, and to 
sigh for another change in the industrial kaleidoscope. 

Just at the time when it appeared as if the "New 
Toun " was to be surrounded by depressing and decaying 
buildings, the Cyanide Company appeared upon the scene, 
and one of the finest works for the manufacture of cyanide 
in the country was built in the nineties. 

Early Coal Workings. 

In the inventory of the title-deeds of the Family of 
Wemyss there is a charter, dated 2nd November 1542, by 
David, Archbishop of St Andrews, in favour of David 
Wemyss of Wemyss, in which reference is made to the corn 
and wauk mills of Methil. Another charter by George, 
Archbishop of St Andrews, dated 7th November 1611, 
specifies not only the corn and the wauk mills of Methil, 
but the coals and coal-heughs of the Kirklands of Methil. 
These charters prove the existence of corn and other mills 
as far back as 1542, and the existence of coal workings in 
1611. The upper seam of coal is at least 20 fathoms be- 
low the surface and the water level at Kirkland. This 
precludes the idea of coal-getting by the day-level system, 
and drives one to the conclusion that as far back as the 
days of Sir John Wemyss of Wemyss coal must have been 
gotten by machinery on the banks of the Leven. In 1612, 
when it seemed as if the days of the coalfields of Scotland 
were numbered, because of the absence of a system of drain- 
age, Sir George Bruce, the captain of Culross industries, 
hit upon the idea of draining Culross mines by pumps 
worked upon the chain and bucket system or the Egyptian 



The Wemyss Family seem to have adopted the same 
system at Kirkland. The "Happy Mine" which Earl 
David of Wemyss ran from Denbeath to a point near 
Kirkland, and in which he had discovered seven seams of 
coal, by 1671 got completely beyond the water level and 
had to be stopped. At Kirkland the pit workers of the 
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries must have been in- 
dependent of the water levels through which the mines 

Chain and Buckets. 

were drained into the sea or the burns In the year 1700, 
David third Earl of Wemyss, then Lord Elcho, handed 
over the coal workings of Kirkland to Dr Andrew 
Mellville. who offered to effect great improvements. In 
1705 Lord Elcho resumed the management of the mines, 
Dr Mellville retiring on a pension and the " use of the new 
house built at Kirkland." The old crow-stepped house still 
stands in the village. 

In the evidence led in a Court of Session action raised 
by the Laird of Durie in 1790 against the Laird of Wmyss, 


in connection with a Leven Water dispute, we have some 
glimpses at the Kirkland pits of far off days. Hundreds 
of years ago the Kirkland dam-dyke was erected on the 
Leven and ground was flooded to the extent of two and a 
half acres. From this dam water was for more than 150 
years drawn for working the pumping engines through 
which the Kirkland pits were kept free of water. Two 
engines were, according to a witness in the Court of 
Session, worked by the Leven water from the dam in 1723, 
acting on the chain and bucket system. One of the chain 
and bucket-engines was displaced by a pump-engine in 1730, 
and the wooden pumps introduced proved such a success 
that a second pump-engine was erected in the days of 
William of Wemyss. The wheel for the bucket engines 
was about forty feet in diameter, while that for the first 
pump-engine was twenty-eight feet. For over a year coals 
were raised from one of the pits by water power ; but the 
horse-gin system seems to have been more satisfactory, and 
the water-power winding engine was abandoned and the 
gin again introduced. One of the witnesses in the action 
thus describes the pits and machinery : 

" The new engine pit was 62 fathoms deep, and the pumps dis- 
charged their water about seven fathoms below the pit mouth. The 
engine wrought four sets of pumps, two upon each beam. The 
pumps consisted of two bottom pumps, a middle pump, and an 
upper pump. One of the bottom pumps discharged its water into a 
stone mine about nineteen fathoms from the bottom of the pit, 
which mine had a communication with the old engine pit, and the 
water run into the mine was raised by the two sets of pumps, 
wrought by the old engine. The working-barrels of the two bottom 
sets of pumps in the new engine-pit were ten inches in diameter, 
and the middle and top sets were nine and a half inches. The new 
engine went six strokes a minute." 

From statements made by some of the other witnesses 
it appears that during the summer months the management 


were sometimes put to great inconvenience for want of 
water. The managers had to fall back upon the expedient 
of heightening the damhead by erecting boards ; and in 
times of extreme drought the operatives at the pits and at 
the different mills on the river journeyed all the way to 
Loch Leven and cast trenches to bring down a rush of water 
from the loch. The lower workings of the pit ultimately 
became flooded with water, and the operatives took to the 
upper seams. The result of the change was that the most 
powerful of the two engines kept the colliery free of water. 
In 1785, however, the water-engine suddenly gave way. 
One of the supports of the great wheel snapped, and the 
huge piece of machinery was thrown out of its place. 
While the laird of Wemyss was considering the advisa- 
bility of repairing the engine or introducing a " fire engine," 
Messrs Neilson, Greenhill & Company appeared upon the 
scene and proposed to erect a great spinning mill. As the 
spinners required the whole of the water, the Laird of 
Wemyss abandoned the idea of reconstructing his colliery 
machinery, and colliery operations ceased. Recently, as 
the works of the Fife Coal Company approached Kirk- 
land, the water was drained from the old workings. To- 
day the Leven colliery miners may have a peep any day 
at the old workings which received their motive power 
from the river Leven. 

Spinning and Linen Hanufacture. 

Messrs Neilson, Greenhill & Company built a large 
spinning work and utilised the river Leven for motive 
power. Having established a great spinning business in 
linen and cotton yarns, they turned their attention to the 
manufacture of linen, and fitted up hand-looms in the 
building which to this day stands on the southern banks of 


the river, and commenced the manufacture of sail-cloth. 
The firm did not stop at sail-cloth. Accepting Dunferm- 
line as a model, the enterprising manufacturers of Kirk- 
land imitated the city, and commenced the manufacture of 
damask. In 1794 about 300 hands were employed about 
the works, and the Company then imported flax direct 
from Russia to the harbour of Methil. A considerable 
extension was carried through in 1809, and in January 
1810 the works were lit up with gas. This was the first 
introduction of gas into any spinning mill in Scotland. 
Rankine, the Leven poet of the beginning of the nineteenth 
century, writing in 1812 says: 

" Nor can the philanthropic muse 

Pass Kirkland heedless by, 
Where elegance combines with use 

T" arrest the traveller's eye. 
Within the spacious, lofty dome, 

Where wheels unnumbered play, 
The brilliant gas dispels the gloom, 

And night surpasses day." 

Although the firm's name of Neilson & Coy. was kept 
up until after 1836, the works at a comparatively early 
stage indeed about 1800 were acquired by Mr James 
Peter, who was ultimately joined by his brother John, and 
in the hands of the Peter family they remained for nearly 
a century. Messrs James and John Peter were succeeded 
by Messrs H. T. and Thomas Peter gentlemen who have 
left on record many pleasant memories, and the latter of 
whom wrote a charming little work which bears the title 
of " Golfing Reminiscences by an Old Hand." How much 
the works progressed during the first half of the century 
will be apparent when it is stated that in 1836 there were 
109 persons engaged in flax-dressing, 283 employed at the 
spinning mill, 48 in the bleaching department, and 241 at 


cloth manufacturing 681 in all. The works were then 
consuming annually 1000 tons of flax and hemp, and the 
yearly wages amounted to ,17,000. In addition to the 
works at Kirkland, the firm had looms employed in the 
manufacture of sail cloth and damask in every village in 
the district. The Rev. John M'Lauchlan gives us the 
following glimpse at the Kirkland of 1836 : 

" The work is a model one. As far as the health and morals of 
the people are concerned, it is conducted in the best possible 
manner. It is not only the wish of the proprietors that the work- 
people's children should be properly educated, but they are really 
and truly so in all the common branches ; and particular attention 
is also paid to their instruction in the great principles of 
Christianity by a well-qualified and efficient teacher. Fewer 
applications have come for parochial relief from the people 
employed at this work than from any other quarter of the parish." 

The transition period, from 1848 to 1856, from the 
hand loom to the power loom, was got over wonderfully 
well. The hand loom gave place to the power loom on the 
banks of the Leven in 1857, and during the sixties, when 
starching warps were being turned out for Kirkcaldy 
Linoleum Works, and other departments were in full 
operation, as many as 800 hands must have been in 
employment at Kirkland. The foreign competition of the 
eighties, which sent many spinning works in Fife and 
other counties in Scotland to the wall, was severely felt at 
Kirkland, and in the closing days of the eighties work 
was, to the deep regret of many people, suspended. The 
huge water wheels were stopped, the spinning machinery 
became silent, the looms on which millions of yards of 
sailcloth had been manufactured ceased to click, and the 
great chimney stalks and huge buildings soon stood cold 
and deserted, a monument of the industry which had gone 


from Kirkland for ever. Houses in the " Auld " and the 
" New Touns " became tenantless, and Kirkland presented 
a depressing sight. Such was the condition of things 
in 1896 when 

The Scottish Cyanide Company, Limited, 

started operations. The Company was formed with 
a capital of ,200,000 for the purpose of making cyanide 
of sodium for extracting gold from the ore. The great 
water wheels of old, the chimney stalk, and many huge 
buildings were soon cleared away, and within three years 
one of the finest appointed works in the world had been 
erected on the site of the old spinning mill and bleaching 
works. The whole of the machinery is driven by turbines 
of 260 horse power, drawn from the river Leven. In 
addition to these, there is an electrical installation of ten 
large boilers, and four triple-expansion Willans engines, of 
nearly 1000 horse power each, and this power is utilised 
for heating the electric furnaces for producing cyanide. 
South Africa is one of the great markets for cyanide, and 
just before the Boer War broke out in 1899 the manu- 
factured article was selling at Is 2|d per Ib. Unfor- 
tunately the process of manufacture had not been per- 
fected at Kirkland when the boom at high rates was on. 
During the war exports of cyanide were practically 
stopped, and the market became glutted, with the result 
that the price fell from Is 2|d per Ib. to 6|d. Stocks 
were so large that for about three years the price 
remained at this abnormally low rate, and the works at 
Kirkland were ultimately shut down. Time has not been 
allowed to pass in vain, however. The process of making 
has been perfected, the producing plant has been added to, 
and the Scottish Cyanide Company are in a position to 


turn out more cyanide than any other work in Scotland, 
with the exception of one, and the quality is of the finest. 
Reports from all parts of the country show that the 'trade 
is reviving from the war glut. In addition to the ori- 
ginal capital of 200,000, debenture stock of 50,000 was 
further spent on the undertaking. The Company went into 
liquidation in September 1905, and a new company was 
formed, with a capital of 50,000. The directors are : 
Messrs W. Sanderson, C. King, G. Readman, C. Carlow, 
A. D. Mackenzie, J. B. Readman, and Dr Dawson Turner. 
Mr R. Bryce Lawrie is the secretary and manager, and Mr 
Sparshott, electrical engineer. 


Trade brings wonderful changes, and in no part of the 
parish of Wemyss have the changes during the past forty 
years been greater than in the town of Buckhaven. 
Forty-five years ago the population of the town was 1950 
souls ; to-day it is 5000. It is quite forty years since the 
writer passed along the East and the West " Toun." It 
happened to be a fete day. As the visitors passed into 
the narrow streets more than one of the residents declared 
that " A' the world's in oor toun the day." Then, even 
on a holiday, sculls, partan creels, coils of baited lines, and 
white-lettered bladders were met with at every turn in the 
narrow lanes and at the foot of the outside stairs of the 
streets, and when two names were mentioned the surnames 
of the village were practically exhausted. Identification 
had often to be helped by the adoption of a wife's 
Christian name or the name of the skipper's boat. 

In the old-world days, perhaps a century ago, the 
name adopted was not enough in some instances, and nick- 
names were had recourse to. And if a well-known legend 
is to be accepted as anything near the truth, the " tee " or 
" slug " names had often to be used with caution. The 
legend tells us that on a stormy night two men met on the 
historic Braehead. " Windy, Willie," said one. " Ter- 
rible, Tammy," said the other. The weather greeting 
happened to be the nicknames of the men, and, according 



to the legend, they fell on each other and fought out as 
tough a battle as if they had been struggling with the 
wind and tide at the entrance to Buckhaven harbour. 

When " Tammy " and " Willie " fought on the Brae- 
head, fishing was the staple industry of the village. 
" Half dealsmen " only now and again came from the pits 
of Wemyss and Durie and joined the old salts for a brief 

J. Patrick] 

West Shore Street, Buckhaven. 


season in the "herring draive," or at the deep sea lines. 
Now the process is reversed. Only a handful of the 
villagers hoist the dark brown sails at intervals, and some 
of the younger men fill in time in and about the pits. 
" Coal, coal, coal ! " is the cry, and coal has raised Buck- 
haven from a fishing village to a place which is the centre 
of municipal life for the three towns which form the Burgh 


of Buckhaven. Happily in the transformation scene 
which has been evolved during the past thirty years, the 
streets which formed the old fishing village are preserved. 
The old red-roofed houses still cling to the rocks, which 
rise boldly from the waters' edge, like limpets. 

The "Buckhyne" of old is a village apart, and as one 
looks on the few old women who may now be seen shelling 
mussels, baiting lines, or mending nets, he may at least form 
an idea of the spectacle the streets and lanes presented 
when the entire residents of the old houses lived by the 
fishing industry. 

The Original Inhabitants. 

The Rev. Dr Harry Spens, who was minister of the 
parish of Wemyss from 1744 to 1761, writing in 1778 
says : 

" As far as I have been able to learn, the original inhabitants of 
Buckhaven were from the Netherlands about the time of Philip II. 
Their vessel had been stranded on the shore. They proposed to 
settle and remain. The family of Wemyss gave them permission. 
They accordingly settled. By degrees they acquired our language 
and adopted our dress, and for these three score years past they 
have had the character of a sober and sensible, an industrious and 
honest set of people. The only singularity in their ancient customs 
that I remember to have heard of was that of a richly ornamented 
girdle or belt, worn by their brides of good condition and character 
at their marriage, and then laid aside and given in like manner to 
the next bride that should be deemed worthy of such an honour. 
The village consists at present of about 140 families, 60 of whom 
are fishers, and the rest land laboiirers, weavers and other 

Philip II. of Spain reigned from 1527 to 1599, so that 
if the tradition on which Dr Spens founded his statement 
is correct, the " original inhabitants " first arrived in the 
"Hyne" of Buckhaven when James IV. was King of 


Scotland, and in the days of Sir John Wemyss of that ilk 
or David, first Earl of Wemyss. 

The Origin of the Name. 

Shelving rocks stretch out from the town into the 
depths of the Forth, and when the tide ebbs or flows there 
is a constant commotion and the sound of waves. In a 
storm the noise, as the waves lash over the skerries, is 
great, and it is probably from the roar of the sea that 
Buckhaven gets its name. BUG or beuc in Gaelic means to 
yell or to roar, and if we drop the v in Buckhaven we 
get Buckha'en, and naturally stumble into the local pro- 
nunciation Buckhyne. Certain it is that from time 
immemorial the people have spoken of the East and the 
West Hyne, and the name has been reminiscent of the 
sound of the surge which drove the Netherlands crew on 
to the rocks which lie in the " Hyne." 

A Sixteenth Century Incident. 

The first authentic notice of Buckhaven is to be found 
in the "Wemyss Memorials," under date 1516. In this 
year a dispute arose between the Laird of Wemyss and Sir 
John Dingwall, vicar of the parish of Wemyss, respecting 
the teinds belonging to Sir John. Besides the Laird, the 
fishermen of Easter Wemyss and Buckhaven were parties 
to the action. While the action was going on, the vicar 
appealed to the Court of Rome, a course of procedure 
which was opposed to the policy of the Scottish Kings of 
the time and the patriotic clergy. The vicar was punished 
for his conduct, the sentence of a heavy fine and a severe 
rebuke being announced at high mass in Wemyss Church. 
The difficulty about the teinds was ultimately got over by 
the parties agreeing upon a compromise and passing in to 
church "in oxtors" (arm-in-arm). 


In 1667. 

During the war between England and Holland, in 
1667, David second Earl of Wemyss and another peer of 
the realm, had some special authority in the County of 
Fife. Their lordships were written to by Archbishop 
Sharp and asked to look to the condition of the coast 
towns on the Forth. The Earl of Wemyss was the means 
by his vigilance of saving some of the King's ships. Here 
is the story, as told in the Earl's diary : 

" On the last day of April 1667, the Hollands fleete inveadded 
Scotland, and cam up that day to Bruneiland, with 30 good ships, 
sum of 60, sum of 50 gunes a peisse, besides 10 littile ones. They 
did offer to land to have burnt all the ships in Bruneiland, but was 
beatten back, and they shotte above 1000 gritte shott att itt, sum 
of 24 bolle, and did not kill man, wife or child ; shotte att noe 
other toune or pleasse ; killed one man in a botte off Buickheauin 
that day, the botte being at fishing, and they would not cum 
aboard of them, so they shotte att the botte, and killed one 
Alexander Christie ther. The botte gott off, and we bourried the 
man at Wemyss cairfully that day. May 1667." 

This incident shows that the men of Buckhaven in 
1667 were men of pluck. They had been pursuing their 
calling peacefully off Buckhaven when the Dutch fleet 
hove in sight. The fishermen refused to go aboard the 
war vessels, and they were fired upon. The crew do not 
seem to have become panic-stricken by the fact that one of 
the balls took effect and killed one man. Amidst the 
shouts and the shots of the Dutch bullies the fishermen 
rowed pluckily for the harbour, and in the quaint language 
of the Earl " the botte gott off." 

De Foe's Glimpses. 

For many years the people of Buckhaven were a com- 
munity to themselves. They married when comparatively 
young, and they invariably wedded fishermen's daughters 


of the same village. The fishermen were a most in- 
dustrious class of men, and many of them owned the red- 
roofed houses which stood on the Broken Brae and on the 
Links, in addition to their boats and all the furnishings 
common to the industry. Defoe, the talented author of 
"Robinson Crusoe," visited the "Hyne" about the year 
1 700, and he says : 

" Buckhaven is inhabited by fishermen, who are employed 
wholly in catching fresh fish every day in the Firth, and carrying 
them to Leith and Edinburgh markets. The buildings are but a 
miserable row of cottages, yet there is scarce a poor man in it ; but 
they are in general so very clownish that to be of the village of 
Buckhaven is become a proverb." 

Defoe, like the cynic who wrote the vulgar pamphlet 
which takes the title of "The History of Buckhaven: 
comprising the Sayings of Wise Willie and Witty Eppie, 
and an Account of the College," must have been snubbed 
by a " Bucker" fishwife while higgling over the purchase 
of some fresh herrings. Dr Robert Chambers, who lived 
in the days when the so-called History was being circu- 
lated among the chap-books of the country, was at special 
pains to get facts bearing on the people who had been 
lampooned and maligned, and writing in 1828 he says: 

" To do them justice, it must be declared that the people on in- 
spection appear precisely the same industrious, simple, primitive 
race with the rest of the piscatory inhabitants of Fife." 

The minister of the parish of 1821 is as emphatic in 
his contradiction of Defoe as the minister of the eighteenth 
century and Dr Chambers were. Mr M'Lachlan says : 

" There are 170 men connected with the fishing station at 
Buckhaven. They have no fewer than 144 boats of various 
dimensions. ... It may well be said that they are a most 
industrious class of men, and are truly entitled, not only to pro- 
tection, but to every countenance and encouragement." 


In an old song we have yet another view of the people 
of Buckhaven which is very different from that of Defoe : 

" The canty carls of Dysart, 
The merry lads of Buckhaven, 
The saucy limmers of Largo, 
The bonny lasses of Leven ." 

The "College" referred to in the "History "is a 
building which to this day stands at the foot of the brae 
at the east end of the town. A whale's jawbones grace 
the entrance to the historic building. It may be interest- 
ing to state that it is more than a century since the 
building was occupied as a school. About the year 1800 
it fell into the hands of a sailor, who, says Taylor, engaged 
in smuggling. The smuggled goods were concealed on the 
premises, and drunken brawls often took place. In a 
brawl the sailor's wife met her death, and her ghost 
haunted the place. 

The vulgar " Sayings " of Willie and Eppie have 
long since ceased to linger about the " Hyne," and it is 
more than fifty years since the people ceased to persuade 
themselves into the idea that the ghost of the wife of the 
smuggling sailor lingered nightly about the whale's jawbones. 

The Fishing Industry from 1750 to 1905. 

It appears that before 1750, long before the steam 
trawler was thought of, haddocks began to get scarce in 
Largo Bay, and Mr Gibb, the minister of the parish, tells 
us that the fishermen had in consequence been reduced. 
" Formerly," he says, " there were in Easter Wemyss, five 
boats, with five men each, and one in Wester Wemyss, 
with five men, and now there is only one boat in Easter 
Wemyss, and the crew consists of old men." Despite the 
scarcity of haddocks and the decay of the industry at East 


Wemyss, the fishermen of Buckhaven stuck to their boats 
and their lines, and Mr Gibb says that in the village 
" there is little alteration in the number of fishermen, and 
though fish are much scarcer than formerly, yet the fisher- 
men are in some measure compensated by the high prices." 
Away back in 1750 as many as 25,000 haddocks were 
sometimes caught in one day by the " merry lads " of 
Buckhaven. At that time the East Neuk burghs had a 
complete monopoly of the Edinburgh market, and big as 
the catches were by the Buckhaven crews, the bulk of the 
fish were sold in the " Kingdom " of Fife. 

As the boats arrived, the pier was crowded with men 
arid horses. The fish were transferred from the boats to 
the creels, a couple of creels were slung over the horses' 
backs, and far and near the fish were hawked. The creels, 
Mr Gibb tells us, ultimately gave place to "neat carts," 
and this was the beginning of the " cadger " as he is 
known to-day. In the closing decade of the eighteenth 
century, when the fish seemed annually to be getting 
scarcer in Largo Bay, the hopes of the Buckhaven fisher- 
men were raised by the appearance of herring in Inver- 
keithing Bay. The harvest gotten under the shadow of 
the Ferry hills and Inch Garvie was disappointing in the 
extreme, and the fishermen of Buckhaven had very soon to 
begin to look further afield for fish. By the close of the 
eighteenth century it became apparent to the fishermen 
that if they meant to exist as a community they must 
journey outwith the May Island. They began to make 
journeys to Helmsdale, Fraserburgh, and Wick, and so 
successful were they in the departure that Mr M'Lauchlan, 
the minister of the parish, writing in 1837, tells us that 
the fishing station of Buckhaven had greatly increased in 


recent years. At that time there were 170 men employed 
in the trade, and they owned as many as 144 boats of 
various dimensions. They set out then in the month of 
July for the great herring fishing stations in the north, 
and there they generally stayed for two months. Mr 
M'Lauchlan gives the values of boats and nets belonging 

to Buckhaven as follows : 

Nets for 

Boats. Each Boat, each Boat. Total. 
First Class- 60 75 110 11,100 

Second - 44 40 120 7,040 

Third - 40 14 20 1,360 

144 19,500 

It will be noticed that the value of nets is greater for 
the second class boats than the first. This is accounted for 
by the fact that three sets of nets were required for the 
second class boats, while only two sets were employed in 
connection with the first and the third. 

Previous to 1785, twelve boats, with six men in each, 
went in the month of August to the herring fishing off 
Dunbar ; but the encouragement by 1790 had become so 
poor that the Dunbar visits had been completely aban- 
doned. Early in the nineteenth century the Dunbar 
fishings were resumed, however, and in 1835 as many as 
100 boats crossed the Forth during July, August, and 
September, and engaged in the herring fishing with con- 
siderable profit. In the fifties and the early sixties the 
herring again fought shy of the Dunbar coast. Once 
more the Dunbar waters were abandoned, and in 1866 the 
fishermen hied themselves as far north as Stornoway. 
North Shields afterwards became a favourite station, and 
for some years as many as 100 Buckhaven boats unfurled 
their sails and set out for the south. In very successful 


years some boats "grossed" as much as 800 for the 
season ; but hi recent years the virtue has gone out of 
even the waters of South Shields, and the 35 boats which 
went south in 1904 returned to the Hyne to report an 
exceedingly lean season. Happily 1905 showed con- 
siderable improvement. Mr Gibb tells us that " the fish 
usually caught in the Forth are haddocks, cod, turbot, 
skate, whitings, soles, flounders, mackerel, and herring." 
Some crews are still engaged all the year round at 
what is now spoken of under the expressive term of 
"the white fishing," but the -catches of white fish are 
not a patch on the takings of Mr Gibb's day. Less 
than half a century ago the winter herring fishing 
commenced in November and continued until the month 
of March, and as many as 50 boats daily left Buckhaven 
harbour during the season. Now it is the first month of 
the year before the fishing commences, and it generally 
closes by the first week in March. At the time herring 
appeared in Inverkeithing Bay the boats commenced 
operations for the season further up the river than they do 
at present, and Burntisland was a considerable market for 
the fleet of boats. Cod and ling formed quite a harvest 
sixty years ago, and the fish were disposed of freely at 5s 
per score. To day, cod and ling bring as much as 3 or 4 
per score ; but big as the price is, it does not compensate 
for the terrible scarcity of fish. The other fishermen of 
the East Coast have the same story to tell of scarcity of 
fish as the Buckhaven men. Along the whole line the 
change is set down to the action of the trawlers in drag- 
ging over spawning grounds. Twenty years ago the 
opposition to trawling became so strong that the Govern- 
ment were compelled to interfere, and fixed the well-known 


three mile limit, the demarkation line being fixed from 
Tantallon Castle to Fife Ness. In 1860 an impetus was 
given to the trade by the arrival of English buyers. The 
English buyers did not linger long in the district, and of the 
old fishcurers, whose names are to this day spoken of with 
reverence in many a household, Bailie Kiunear may be 
said to be the only one who is still in the flesh. 

The Harbour. 

In the eighteenth century Buckhaven harbour was 
such a wretched apology for a haven for boats that the 
Rev. George Gibb, writing in 1790, does not think it 
worthy of mention. He says: "There are two good 
harbours in the parish, one at Methil and one at Wester 
Wemyss." In 1835 a strong agitation arose for improve- 
ment at Buckhaven. The Fishery Board was approached, 
and ultimately a scheme was launched which was estimated 
to cost 4200. Of this sum the Fishery Board agreed to 
contribute 3000, and the balance was to be made up by 
the fishermen. The scheme was carried through in 1837-8. 
A further extension scheme was entered on in 1850, and 
two years later it was completed at a cost of 18,000, 
6000 of which was subscribed by the fishermen, and the 
Fishery Board made up the deficiency. In July 1905 a 
Bill, which was promoted by Mr Wemyss of Wemyss 
Castle and others, was heard by a Committee of the House 
of Lords in London, praying for powers for the construc- 
tion of a dock at Buckhaven at a cost of 260,000. After 
hearing the evidence of the promoters, the Chairman, the 
Duke of Northumberland, said the Committee found that 
the preamble of the Bill had not been proved, but they had 
been much impressed by the evidence with regard to the 
congestion of the district. They did not consider it had 


been proved that no other party could relieve the conges- 
tion except Mr Wemyss, the promoter, and therefore they 
did not at present see sufficient reasons for relieving him 
from the agreements he had entered into with the North 
British Railway Company, while there were still hopes of 
the necessary accommodation being provided from some 
other source. The Bill was accordingly thrown out. In 
the month of August a meeting of coal masters and 
shipping agents was held in Glasgow, at which a deputa- 
tion was appointed to wait on the Directors of the North 
British Railway Company and press them to provide 
additional accommodation at Methil. The Committee met 
the Directors on September 21st. The Directors inti- 
mated that they would consider the representations made 
to them, and there is a prospect of a Bill providing for an 
extension at Methil being promoted in November 1905. 

Muiredge and Rosie Collieries. 

In 1864, at the very time the fishing industry showed 
signs of decay, three men arrived at Dysart railway 
station from the little mining village of Crossgates. The 
young men caught up a young brewer who was driving a 
horse and spring cart and who had disposed of his load. 
" Is this the road to Wemyss Castle 1 " asked one of the 
men. "Yes," was the frank reply, "I pass the entrance 
to the avonue. Jump on, if you care." The strangers did 
not require a second invitation. They leapt on to the van 
and were driven to the avenue leading to Wemyss Castle. 
The three men were Archibald Bowman, and James and 
David Cairns. They were on their way to Wemyss Castle 
to make inquiries about Muiredge Colliery, and before 
they had left the Castle they had agreed to take a lease of 
the colliery. 



At Muiredge Colliery a shaft had been sunk by the 
Wemyss family to the chemiss splint, a depth of 80 
fathoms. It stood, however, in the centre of a coal which 
was so much calcined that it was practically useless, and 
the subject, with its continual rush of water down the 

J*lr Archibald Bowman. 

shaft, cannot be said to have been particularly inviting. 
Turn how the men liked, they were face to face with 
burnt coal, and an old friend who had had somt? experience 
of mining did not hesitate to affirm that the Company 


would woo " fickle fortune " in vain, " and would only lose 
what little they had." The partners had a strong scent for 
coal. They discovered the site of Earl David's " Happy 
Mine," to the east, and saw puffing pits and heard the 
rattle of coals to the west, and from this they argued that 
they were bound ultimately to succeed at Muiredge. And 
succeed they did. They got through the burnt coal and 
pierced the dyke to the west, and struck a large stretch of 
fine coal at a point where an authority, who was alleged 
to read the metals " like a book," said the coal had been 
in the air and in the glacial period had gone down the 
Forth. " Down the Forth," forsooth ! It was more than 
100 fathoms under the surface. It has gone down the 
Forth during the past 30 years not on glaciers, but in 
boats. The little bits of luck put the Company on their 
feet and gave them heart, and from a fortnightly wage bill 
of GO they soon rose to ,100, and, according to an official 
statement made in 1891, the wages paid every fortnight 
amounted to 4000. Early in the seventies the Company 
appointed Mr A. Bowman to the post of general manager, 
and from the date of his appointment the progress began 
to be even more marked than it had previously been. In 
the golden days of 1872-3, the Company reaped a rich 
harvest from the two Muiredge pits. Mr Bowman turned 
the surplus cash to good account by sinking the Denbeath, 
the Isabella, and the Rosie pits, and raised the output of 
the Company from some 300 tons to 2000 tons a day. 

A break was experienced in 1879, when Mr James 
Cairns died, and just before the fall of the leaf in 1882, 
another loss was sustained by the decease of Mr Lawrence 
Bowman. Mr David Cairns left Methil and took up his 
abode at Crail, where he was beyond the sound of whistling 



steam pipes and rattling jiggers. He died in the spring of 
1905. The remains of the three men who founded the 
Company now lie side by side in the God's acre of the 
parish of Wemyss. The three worked cordially together. 
It is fitting that they should find a last resting-place in 
the same sunny spot, and within a short distance of the 
old corbie-stepped and red-roofed houses where they first 
saw the light of day. When they went first to live inland 
they used often to say that they could not sleep for want 



Denbeath Washer. 

of the noise of the waters of the Forth. They have been 
laid to rest within the shadow of Maodutf's Castle, and 
within the sound of the rippling waves which in youth 
brought balm}'- sleep. Peace to their ashes ! 

The Denbeath, Isabella, and Rosie pits of to-dav 
present a striking contrast to the Muiredge pit, where the 
Company first commenced operations. But great as the 
contrast is, it is not more striking than that which is 


presented to the minds of those who are able to compare 
the facilities for the disposal of the coals with those of 
to-day. For some time after Muiredge was started, the 
coals were conveyed to Methil harbour in carts ; the carts 
in time gave place to a horse waggon way by Denbeath 
Glen, and ultimately the horses gave place to a locomotive. 
In the early days of the Company all was excitement at 
the pits when a boat of 200 tons came into Methil ; now it 
takes a steamer of from 3000 to 5000 tons to arouse just a 
little excitement, and the little excitement is confined to 
colliery officials who are immediately responsible for the 
dispatch of the colliery output. The changes experienced 
in the district during the past 40 years have not by any 
means been confined to the collieries. Like Methil, the 
old-world town of Buckhaven has been surrounded by a 
modern town, and while in 1861 the population was 1965, 
the population to-day is 5000. Messrs Bowman & Co.'s 
lease expired in August 1905, and the works were then 
acquired by the Wemyss Coal Coy., Ltd. 

Mr Archibald Bowman, the general manager of Bow- 
man & Company, is a man of restless energy. He is 
Chairman of the Bowhill Coal Company, and takes a great 
interest in all that concerns the welfare of that most 
successful Company. He has been appointed a Director 
in the Wemyss Coal Company, Limited. 

Net flanufacturing and other Works. 

Sixty years ago the click of the hand-loom was heard 
in most of the narrow streets in Buckhaven, and Mr 
Thomas Ireland carried on an extensive business as reed 
maker, making reeds for not only the workers of linen in 
the parish of Wemyss, but for toilers at the loom in the 
entire county. In the sixties the hand-loom was gradually 


silenced by the power-loom, and the reed industry of 
Buckhaven declined with the hand-loom trade. Mr Ire- 
land died in 1903. Another trade which has left the 
burgh is that of boatbuilding. Time was when Mr J. 
Ireland, Mr J. Kinnear, Mr D. Brown, and Mr M. Baird 
each had a considerable number of hands engaged in build- 
ing boats for the fishermen of the Forth. A launch has 
not taken place in the " Hyne " for many years, and the 
only links that remain of the industry are some old repair- 
ing works. Net manufacturing has been carried on at 
Buckhaven for many years. As far back as 1858 Mr 
John Ireland, who was a man of great enterprise, and his 
sons, took up net manufacturing under the firm name of 
John Ireland & Sons. When they first commenced opera- 
tions, nets were made of hemp twine, but when cotton took 
the place of hemp, the Messrs Ireland were not slow in 
adapting themselves to the change, and made an important 
addition to their works in the shape of a spinning work. 
For some time they employed as many as 300 hands. 
When the fishing industry began to decline in the neigh- 
bourhood, however, the hands were gradually reduced, and 
the firm gave up manufacturing in 1870. A destructive 
fire played sad havoc among the spinning plant in 1880, 
and operations were not again commenced. Messrs J. & 
W. Stuart, patent net and twine manufacturers, Mussel- 
burgh, took over Messrs Ireland's net manufacturing 
plant in 1870 and commenced operations in the old works. 
In 1878 they built their present commodious premises and 
had them fitted up with machinery of the latest type. 
There are seventy looms in operation, and employment is 
generally given to about seventy hands. Mr W. D. 
Matthew is in charge of Messrs Stuart's Buckhaven 
branch. Mr William Thomson opened his works in 


Randolph Street in 1870. Since the opening, important 
additions have been made to the works, and the machinery 
is thoroughly up-to-date. There are forty looms in opera- 
tion, and these give employment to about forty hands. Mr 
Thomson has his son associated with him in business. 
Time was when all the wood used for house building, &c., 
in the parish of Wemyss was cut at the sawmills of Kirk- 
land or Leven. For many years Mr David Brown and his 
sons have had a well-appointed sawmill in operation at 
Buckhaven. Messrs Brown deal largely in our home- 
grown timber. They buy up whole plantations of the best 
of Scotch wood and have the trees converted at Buckhaven 
into the heavy beams and other timbers which have now 
become so popular at many of the Fife pits for above 
and below ground. 

The Ecclesiastical History. 

The Rev. John M'Lachlan, the minister of the parish 
of Wemyss in the thirties, looked with a kindly eye on the 
Dissenters of Buckhaven, and gave them a certificate of 
"respectability." Writing in 1836, Mr M'Lauchlan 

" There is a Dissenting meeting-house in connection with the 
United Association Synod, situated on the Links of Buckhaven, 
about two miles from the parish church. The clergyman's stipend 
is 110 per annum, with manse and garden. The present minister 
is the Rev. Robert Pollock. The congregation is respectable, and 
divine service is well attended." 

The stipend paid to Mr Pollock shows that the Dis- 
senting congregation of Buckhaven were " respectable " 
in more ways than that suggested by Mr M'Lauchlan. 
They were Dissenters, and they were willing to pay for 
their Dissent. The history of Dissent in Buckhaven goes 
back to a more remote period than 1836. As far back as 


October 1739, Mr John Thomson, an elder in the Estab- 
lished Church of Wemyss parish, and several friends met 
and resolved to cast in their lot with the Associate Presby- 
tery. At first they attended the Associate Church of 
Abbotshall, Kirkcaldy, but on a church being opened at 
Kennoway they "lifted their lines" at Abbotshall, and 
joined the Dissenters in Kennoway. Some difference of 
opinion arose in 1791 in Kennoway over a call to a 
successor to the Rev. "Wm. Kidston. The members 
resident in Buckhaven and other places in the parish of 
Wemyss took advantage of the division to plead for the 
formation of a separate congregation at Buckhaven. 
The Presbytery gave ear to the appeal from Wemyss 
parish, and in 1792 a congregation was formed. A 
delightful site on the links, near the Denbeath of to-day, 
was granted by General Wemyss for a church, and the 
building was completed and ready for public worship in 
January '1795. The church was built from boulders 
gathered from the beach, and from blocks quarried from 
the Braid Hills close by. 

From the date of formation in 1792 to 1796 the con- 
gregation had no regular minister, and for nearly two 
years services were conducted in the open air and in a 
barn in the village. David Telford, from Stirling, was 
the first minister. He was ordained on 12th July 1796. 
He began with a stipend of 70 a year, and the modest 
sum of 4 annually for house rent. Mr Telford was paid a 
half year's stipend in advance on the day of his ordination, 
and ace rding to the custom of the times, the cheque 
included ,6 8s lOd for a suit of clothes and certain fur- 
nishings. A manse was built near the church in 1801, 
and then followed a wall round the manse. The Rev. 


"Wm. Dunlop, the present pastor of the congregation, who 
some years ago made a study of the minutes of the church, 
tells us that in 1807 as many as 227 sittings were let in 
the body of the church and 59 in the "pens." In 1810, 
the stipend was raised to .85 a year. The congregation 
seems to have been alive to the necessity of educating the 
young, and about 1810 a school was opened near the 
church. Henry Davidson was the first "bedel," and he 
was followed by John Anderson and James Martin (John). 
Stories of the good work done by these functionaries are 
told in Buckhaven to this day. 

On the 4th May 1824 Mr Telford died. John Lan- 
dale, a member of the congregation, wrote the following 
inscription, which appears on a memorial stone in Wemyss 
Churchyard : 

" To wean mankind from sin and vice 
And lead them to a Saviour's grace ; 
To visit, cherish, and console 
The sick, the poor, the afflicted soul, 
Thus Telford spent his useful life, 
A friend to peace, aloof from strife ; 
As parent, husband, neighbour, friend, 
Indulgent, loving, good and kind : 
With love to God and man inspired, 
The friend of both lies here interred." 

On the 29th August 1825 it was agreed to call Mr 
Peter M'Dowall, from Ivy Place, Stranraer. Mr 
M'Dowall was at the same time under call to Alloa, and 
he chose Alloa. It was May 1826 before the congregation 
found themselves in a position to make another call. 
This time the choice fell on the Rev. Robert Pollock, 
from Mauchline. Mr Pollock became the second minister 
of the Secession Church of Buckhaven in December 1826. 
He was certainly a man of considerable ability, and under the 


title of " Apocalyptic Regeneration " he published a study 
of the Book of Revelation. He had the honorary degree 
of LL.D. conferred upon him. With all his ability, he 
does not appear to have been particularly steadfast in the 
Dissenting faith. Mr Dunlop reminds us that one of his 
famous sayings was, " My sword is now unsheathed, never 
to return to the scabbard until the triumphant flag of 
Voluntaryism is flying from the last rampart of the 
Establishment." In 1845 he hauled down the flag of 
Voluntaryism, bade adieu to Buckhaven, and became 
minister of Kingston quoad sacra Church, Glasgow. Mr 
Pollock was a medal holder on Dubbieside golf links in 1837, 
and according to tradition could use his fists as well as he 
could handle a golf cleek. " Purse or life ! " was the 
demand which a local Dick Turpin made while Pollock 
passed the " Double Dykes " one night. " Do you know 
who I am ?" asked the minister. " Yes ; you're Pollock the 
minister o' Buckbyne." was the reply. Pollock cast his 
coat, ejaculating " There lies the minister, and here stands 
Pollock." And Pollock set to work and gave the " would- 
be-robber" a severe thrashing. Mr Pollock was succeeded 
by the Rev. Win. Cowan, from Selkirk. Mr Cowan was 
ordained on Gth July 1846. The stipend at that time was 
100 a year and 10 for expenses. Within a year of Mr 
Cowan's settlement in Buckhaven, the union of the 
Secession and Relief Churches had taken place. Mr 
Cowan resigned the charge in May 1855, and took up 
missionary work in Glasgow. Mr Alexander C. 
Rutherford, Falkirk, was inducted as the fourth 
minister of the congregation on 13th November 1855. Mr 
Rutherford was translated to Noroh Richmond Street 
Church, Edinburgh, on 27th March 1860. He died in 


1878. The Rev. Robert Alexander, a native of Fen wick, 
came next. He was ordained on 25th March 1862. Mr 
Alexander accepted a call to Queen Anne Street Church, 
Dunfermline. on 12th August 1873. Mr John G. Train 
succeeded Mr Alexander. He was ordained on 7th June 
1874. Mr Train had not been long in Buckhaven when 
he had call after call presented by congregations. In 
1886 he accepted a call to Hull, and is now in London. 
Mr William Shaw Stewart, a native of Ireland, was 
ordained to the pastorate of the Church on 27th September 
1887. He went to Glasgow in December 1890, and on 
28th April 1891 Mr Win. Dunlop was ordained to the 
charge. Mr Dunlop is a native of Ayrshire, and is an 
M.A. of Glasgow University. He took his Divinity course 
in the United Presbyterian Hall of Edinburgh. He takes 
a great interest in every institution established for good in 
the Burgh. So far as golf is concerned, history repeats 
itself in the manse of Buckhaven. Mr Dunlop is as 
skilful an exponent of the game of to-day as Mr Pollock 
was , in the game of the thirties. He plays scratch in 
the Innerleven Club. The present church was opened 
during the ministry of Mr Alexander. The opening 
services took place on 12th April 1869. At the Union 
the congregation adopted the name of St David's United 
Free Church. 

Muiredge United Free Church. 

Muiredge Church is spoken of as a " daughter " of St 
David's. It was originated by Mr Train, and was opened 
on 2nd July 1885. The Presbytery intended to place the 
church to the north of the Ness Braes, near the burn, but 
ultimately fixed the site at the corner of Church Street, a 
spot which for years had been a scene of animation at fairs 


and holiday times. Being situated on ground 011 Muir- 
edge Farm, the church was, at the suggestion of one of the 
elders who is still with us, named Muiredge Church. The 
building was begun in 1884. The work proceeded some- 
what slowly at first, and during a violent westerly gale a 
squall of hurricane force blew down the front gable. This 
retarded the work still more. With but little help from with- 
out, the congregation went on year by year gradually but 
surely paying off debt until, before the ministry of the 
first minister was closed in 1894, the church was free from 
all financial difficulty. The congregation carried through 
a painting and cleaning scheme at a cost of 100 before 
its second minister was inducted. After a year this new 
debt was cleared off. Mr John Bissett (of Lathones) was 
ordained as the first minister in July 1886. On his 
acceptance of a call to Lochee Road Church, Dundee, in 
February 1894, a short vacancy ensued. In July of the 
same year Mr David Hume, M.A., London, was ordained 
to the second charge. The want of a manse was soon 
raised as a question of increasing urgency, and in 1902 
the minister was comfortably housed in a new manse, 

St Andrew's United Free Church. 

A mission station under the auspices of the Free 
Church was formed in Buckhaven in 1 866. The members 
were drawn chiefly from East Wemyss and Leven con 
gregations. For several years the station was under the 
charge of successive probationers. The services were at 
first conducted in the school, but a church was erected and 
opened in 1872. The building has a rather interesting 
history. It was originally the place of worship of the 
Episcopal congregation in the city of St Andrews ; but, 
having become too small, the building as it stood was 


purchased by the Free Church Committee, the materials 
brought by sea to Buckhaven, and re-erected on the pre- 
sent site, the total cost being about .1300. In 1875 the 
station was raised by the General Assembly to the posi- 
tion of a sanctioned charge. On the 29th October 1875 
the Rev. William M'Ghie, the present pastor, was 
ordained to the charge. Mr M'Ghie is a native of Chapel- 
ton, in the parish of Glassford, Lanarkshire. He studied 
at Glasgow University and Free Churcb College. During 
his ministry the congregation has largely increased. At 
a cost of nearly .1900, the church has been extended, a 
large and commodious rnanse erected, and a hall added to 
the congregational property. Mr M'Ghie has been a 
member of Wemyss School Board for 21 years, and for a 
term fulfilled the duties of chairman. 

The Established Church. 

The Established Church at Buckhaven had its origin 
in missionary work, commenced in October 1894 by the 
Rev. John Kennedy, of East Wemyss. The Rev. William 
Dunlop was the first missionary. The church was opened 
in 1900. The building cost 1500, and provides accom- 
modation for 320 sitters There is no debt on the build- 
ing. Mr Dunlop was succeeded by the Rev. G. Borrow- 
man, who in 1904 was called to the Scots Church, 
Newcastle-on-Tyne, The Rev. J. Mackechnie was or- 
dained to the pastorate of the church in February 1905, 
when he had a hearty welcome from the congregation, and 
was presented with a gold albert and appendage. Mr 
Mackechnie is a graduate of Edinburgh University, and 
was the pastor of the Beach Church, Broughty Ferry, 
previous to his coming to Buckhaven. 


A Church of Christ. 

A branch of a body which takes the name of the Church 
of Christ meets in the Iron Church in Chapel Street.' The 
body met for some time in a hall, but about five years ago 
built the little iron church in which they now assemble 
every first day of the week. The members adhere firmly 
to the old faith of " putting on Christ " by immersion. 


The "Kingdom" of Fife abounds in caves or "weems"- 
a derivative from the Gaelic name for a cave. In St 
Andrews we have the cave of St Rule, at Pittenweem the 
cave of St Fillan, and St Adrian's at Caiplie ; in Dunferrn- 
line, the cave of St Margaret, and in Culross, St Serf's. 
The patron saint of Culross is described as having usually 
spent the forty dajs of Lent in a cave named the Desertum. 
This cave at Desertum, or Dysart, was utilised as a church 
up to a date near the Reformation. The rocky coast-line 
of the Firth of Forth from West Wemyss to a point near 
Buckhaven is, to use a suggestive word of Sir William 
Fraser, " honey-combed " by caves. Nine caves were for 
years accessible, but there is little doubt that others 
existed. As time went on, the openings of the unseen 
caves had been covered over with fallen and accumulated 
debris. Only one of the nine caves was situated to the 
west of the village of East Wemyss. It was called the 
Glass Cave, because in 1610 Sir George Hay, Lord Clerk 
Register, afterwards Lord Kinnoul, established a manu- 
factory for glass in the pre-historic dwelling, and in 1698, 
David third Earl of Wemyss followed the example of the 
Earl of Kinnoul Seven years ago, the Michael pits were 
sunk on the shore a little to the east of the historic cave. 
In the course of time one of the upper seams of coal was 
worked und*r the cave. The operations affected the 
surface, and one evening four years ago a crash was heard 


in the valley between Wemyss Castle and East Wemyss. 
The cave had fallen in, and to-day the Glass Cave presents 
all the appearance of a huge wrecked lime kiln. 

The Earl of Kirmoul seems to have carried on his glass- 
work at considerable loss. Although the work was one of 
the earliest of the kind in Scotland, "the demand for glass 
does not seem to have been particularly heavy. Reporting 
on the trade to James VI., in 1619, the Privy Council 
state that the proprietor had discovered that the income 
from glass for a year would not meet a month's bill at the 
works. Despite the discouraging circumstances, Sir 
William Eraser found from the Wemyss papers that the 
works were active in 1691 In 1698, David third Earl of 
Wemyss obtained an Act of Parliament giving him and 
others a monopoly of the making of certain kinds of glass. 
Perhaps the monopoly secured to Earl David by Act of 
Parliament enabled him to make two ends meet ; but it is 
apparent that the glass-blowers who followed him found it 
a difficult task to work to profit. Mr Gibb, the minister 
of the parish, writing in 1790, says : 

"This cave, which is about 200 feet in length, 100 feet in 
breadth, and 30 feet in height, was fitted up about 60 years ago by 
a tacksman for a glass-work ; but soon after the work commenced 
the man became bankrupt, and the buildings were allowed to go to 

Turning eastwards, beyond the village of East Wemyss, 
the first cave the visitor comes to is the Court Cave, 
through the two doorways of which the charming shore- 
walk is threaded. Two explanations of the name of this 
cave are given. One is that when the lands of Easter 
Wemyss were the property of the Livingstones or Colvilles, 
their baronial courts were held in the cave ; the second is 
that James IV. in a frolic one evening joined a company 



of gipsies, who were drinking and making merry. As the 
"flowing bowl" went round, the gipsies began to quarrel 
among themselves. The Guidman of Ballangeich tried to 
mediate between the brawlers. When about to get the 
"reddin' stroke" for his pains, he made himself known. 
Tradition fails to tell us what happened ; but the gipsies 
doubtless became as harmless in the presence of Royalty as 
the doves which " cooed " in the dovecot close by. 

J. Patrick] 

The Court Cave, East Wemyss. 


The Castle or Well Cave is near the Court Cave. The 
first name is given to the cave because of a tradition that 
it was connected with the Castle by an underground pass- 
age, while it took the second name from a well (the water 
of which was said to be a specific for jaundice, which was 
situated in one of the corners). In the days of Mr Gibb, 
the Castle Cave was annually visited by the young people 


of East Wemyss on the first Monday of January, old 
style. The young people carried burning torches. Mr 
Gibb tried to trace the origin of the New- Year processions, 
but even in his day the meaning of the old customs had 
been as much forgotten as were the early dwellers in the 
Wemyss caves. 

The East and the West Dovecot Caves take their 
names because they had been utilised as pigeon houses, and 
the name Jonathan's Cave had its origin in the fact that a 
poor man of the name of Jonathan, and his family, found 
a shelter for years in the long, narrow, rugged aperture. 
An accidental slip of the land above gave rise to the name 
" Sloping Cave," and just beyond the slip there are the 
"White Cave" and the " Gas Works Cave." Wyntoun 
tells us that the caves were the habitations or retreats of 
the monks of early times. Wyntoun was no doubt right, 
but the caves take us back to a date long before the days of 
the monks the author of the " Originate Cronykle" had in 

Professor Sir J. Y. Simpson, when on a visit to 
Wemyss in 1865, discovered rude sculpturings on the sides 
of some of the caves. The sculpturings resembled exactly 
the carvings on certain of the Sculptured Stones of Scot- 
land. Here there were figures of animals, there of men, 
some of them of peculiar shape, and in other places crosses 
of various forms. At two or three points Professor Simp- 
son and Dr Joseph Robertson discovered letterings and 
symbolic arrangements of figures or hieroglyphics. As long 
as the mysterious symbols were found only on sepulchral 
monoliths, so long were they supposed to be hieroglyphic 
or heraldic funeral inscriptions or emblems ; but this theory 
was blown to the winds by the discovery of the markings 


in Wemyss and other caves. And so the symbols of the 
Sculptured Stones of Scotland and the caves remain 
archaeological enigma. That the Wemyss caves were in- 
habited has been demonstrated by the fact that bones of 
sheep, deer, oxen, etc., and shells and remains of cereals, 
have often been found by searchers after truth. But when 
the caves echoed and re-echoed to the feet of men and 
women and to the merry voices of children is a matter 
which remains in the region of conjecture. 

Macduff's Castle. 

On a bold commanding height above the group of caves 
is the fine old ruin which takes the name of Macduff's 
Castle. Tradition connects the castle with the noble 
Thane, the daring discomtitter of the wicked Macbeth. 
The two square towers, which are practically the only 
remnants left of the old keep, may not as some authorities 
assert belong to eleventh century architecture, but they 
at least take us back five, centuries. The Earls of Fife 
undoubtedly had a fortress in the district, and the ruins 
which stand on the steep and rocky eminence, and which 
to-day take the name of Macduff's Castle, may be the 
remains of that building or its successor. Prior to the 
division of the estates in the middle of the fourteenth 
century the Castle was occupied by the successive Lairds 
of Wemyss. 

In March 1304 King Edward made a progress through 
Fife, and he was the guest for a night and a day of Sir 
Michael Wemyss of Wemyss. Two years after, when 
King Robert the Bruce came forward in defence of the 
Scottish people, Sir Michael joined the patriots. The 
actions of Sir Michael gave great offence to Edward, and 
he issued orders to the effect that the " manor" where Sir 



Michael "lay" and "all his other manors should be 
burned and his gardens stripped bare." According to 
Wyntoun, it was at Wemyss where Randolph Earl of 
Moray, the Regent of Scotland, first showed symptoms of 
the illness which cut him down in July 1332. 

In 1615 the Castle was said to consist of a "laich 
cellar," a chamber called the " woman hous," two chambers 

J. Patrick] 


Macduff Castle, East Wemyss. 

called the " laird's chalmers," the "great chalmer," and the 
" keep hous," with houses lying to the " Wester Tower of 
East Wemyss, called the bake hous and brew hous." Sir 
William Fraser says : 

" With the partition of the Wemyss Estates the old Castle 
passed into the possession of the Livingstones of Drumry, who 
married one of the three co-heiresses of Sir Michael Wemyss of 
Wemyss. They obtained the eastern portion of the estate of 


Wemyss, on which the Castle stood, and it remained with them 
until 1530, when it became the property of the Colvilles, who 
sold it in 1630, with the estate, to John first Earl of Wemyss. 
This Earl, as if rejoicing in the re acquisition of the ancient strong- 
hold of the family, made it his residence for some time during the 
remaining period of his life. But his son, David second Earl of 
Wemyss, preferred the Castle of West Wemyss." 

The Countess of Wemyss, wife of John first Earl of 
Wemyss, died at East Wemyss on 17th August 1639. The 
Countess of Sutherland, the daughter of the second Earl, 
wrote in 1666 from Dunrobin Castle asking her father to 
allow her children to reside in the Castle of East Weinyss 
because it was feared that a plague would break out in 
Edinburgh. This request on the part of Lady Jean 
Wemyss proves that the Castle was at least habitable up 
to 1666. It must have been after this that the historic 
building was allowed to go to decay. At the base of the 
cliffs on the beach there is a magnificent dovecot, which 
reminds one of the saying common to the Fife laird of old : 
" A wee pickle rent, a gey pickle debt, and a doocot." 

Wemyss Castle. 

Wemyss Castle is an imposing and stately building, 
which is charmingly situated, commanding a magnificent 
view of the Forth and the shores on the south side of the 
river. Looking from a point within the shadow of the 
ancient keep associated with the name of Macduff, Wemyss 
Castle is seen peeping through the trees and "flaunting its 
flag," as Mr Geddie says, against the blue sky. How long 
a flag has floated in the breeze on the castle it is difficult 
to say. The building has undergone a great many changes, 
and the older part bears such marks of antiquity that it 
carries one's thoughts back to the distant past when the 
immediate successors of the Thane of Fife were the 



superiors of old Wemyss-shire and other lands in the 
ancient " Kingdom." The eastern wing is undoubtedly 
part of the original stronghold. When it was erected it is 
impossible to say, but it is abundantly proved that there 
was a castle at Wemyss in the days of Sir John Wemyss 
of Reres and Wemyss (1372-1428). On the death of Sir 
Michael, the fifth known laird of Wemyss, the estates 
were divided between his three daughters as his co- 
heiresses. They married into the families of Inchmartin 
of Inchmartin, Boswell of Balmuto, and Livingstone of 
Drumry. Wemyss-shire, as Sir William Eraser tells us, 
ultimately fell to be divided between two of the families, 
and the one family took up residence in MacdufPs Castle, 
while the other was resident in the manor house. 

That Sir John Wemyss of Reres and Wemyss had 
a residence at Wemyss is apparent from the fact that 
his eldest son, David Wemyss, dates a document from 
Wemyss in 1423, and Sir William Fraser found documents 
which showed that the Wemyss and the Livingstone 
families had their respective manor houses at Wester and 
Easter Wemyss in 1428. On the archway leading into the 
court of the old portion of the Castle there is an unique 
armorial stone. The stone on one side bears two letters 
D, and on the sinister side two letters V. The initial 
letters are supposed to represent David of Wemyss and his 
son David. In a broad margin surrounding the armorial 
stone we have the date 1421. En the days of Sir John 
Wemyss, in 1430, the Castle is spoken of as " The Manor 
of Wemyss." Coining to the days of Sir David Wemyss 
of Wemyss (1508-1513), we find the ancient keep referred 
to as the "Manor of Wester Wemyss," and in 1570, when 
King James the Fourth erected the whole of the estates of 



Sir David Into the Barony of Wemyss, the Castle of Wemyss 
was assigned as the principal messuage of the new barony. 

In the troublous times which existed between 1544 
and 1550, Sir John Wemyss of that ilk was a conspicu- 
ous figure among the nobles of the time. He was on the 
side of the Governor Arran, and in 1547 we find him 
and his followers called to the Borders to repel an English 
invasion ; but Sir John and his retainers soon returned to 
"Wemyss for the defence of the castle and homestead in 
case of attack. On the 3rd August 1548, the Queen- 
Dowager, Mary of Guise, visited the Castle while on her 
way from Edinburgh to St Andrews. The Queen-Regent 
died in June 1560, and on 19th August 1561, the young 
widowed Queen Mary returned to her kingdom from 
France. Between the date of Mary's arrival at Leith and 
the beginning of 1565 a good deal of speculation was 
indulged in over her probable marriage, and in February 
of that year an incident happened at the Castle of Wemyss 
which soon set speculation at rest. In January 1565 
Mary journeyed to Fife from Edinburgh, and she spent 
most of the first month of the year at Falkland and St 
Andrews. The Queen's sojourn in the " Kingdom," says 
John Knox, " caused wild fowl to be so dear that part- 
ridges sold at a crown a piece." 

Mary left St Andrews on llth February, and next day 
came to Lundie. On the 13th she rode to Wemyss by the 
coast, and among those who welcomed the royal party 
at the Castle of the " Weeins " was the ill-fated Henry 
Stewart, Lord Darnley. The first impressions, says a 
certain writer, were "favourable and abiding." The 
impressions made during the week's sojourn at Wemyss 
were at least favourable, but one can hardly say they were 


abiding. On Mary's return to Edinburgh, Darnley "haunted 
the Court." The Queen at first pretended to " disrelish " 
a proposal of marriage, and even refused a ring; but by the 
20th of July she had created Darnley Duke of Albany, 
and on the 29th of the same month the marriage bells 
were ringing in Holyrood Palace. On 9th March 1566, 
Riccio, the Queen's secretary, was at the instigation of 
Darnley done to death in the Queen's chamber. 

On 9th February 1567 the town of Edinburgh was early 
in the morning alarmed by a loud explosion, the mansion 
in which the King lodged had been blown up, and the 
remains of the gay young Darnley, who just two years 
before had spent a week in Wemyss, were found in a field. 
Towards the close of 1586, Christendom in Scotland was 
stirred by the Queen being placed upon trial on the 
ground of her alleged complicity in Babington's plot for 
the assassination of Elizabeth. Events crowded in upon 
each other, and in 1587 Mary was executed. Wemyss 
Castle is not allowed to forget Mary. A memorial of her 
visit remains at the Castle in the form of a sculptured 
medallion which was inserted in the front wall. The 
picture gallery in the Castle includes a beautiful portrait 
of the Queen. Close by the oil-painting of Mary hangs a 
portrait of Darnley. Both paintings bear the date 1566. 

James VI. was particularly anxious that he and his 
Queen, Anne of Denmark, should be well received by the 
people of Scotland on the occasion of their marriage. James 
wrote to the laird of Wemyss, David Wemyss of Wemyss, 
instructing him to receive and entertain them for one 
night, Monday, llth May 1590. The reception and the 
entertainment seems to have come up to the expectations of 
the " Scottish Solomon," for in June of the following year 


his majesty was in Wemyss Castle when the Earl 
Marischal, who was in disgrace, came to the " Kingdom " 
to try to make peace with the king. David the second 
Earl of Wemyss had the honour of being one of the 
Parliamentary Commissioners who, in 1650, welcomed 
Charles II. at Falkland. Charles reached Falkland on 6th 
July, and on the 12th he dined with the Earl of Wemyss 
at Wemyss Castle. Lamont chronicles the event in these 
words : " The tyme that he abode at Falklande he went 
downe one day and dyned at the E. of Wemyss' house." 
Charles was crowned king at Scono on 1st January 1651, 
and shortly afterwards he made a progress through Fife to 
visit the fortifications of the Forth. From Stirling he 
reached Burntisland on 12th February, and on the follow- 
ing day rode to Wemyss Castle, where he passed the night. 
David the second Earl of Wemyss made enormous ex- 
tensions to the Castle in 1669-70. The additions included a 
dining-room, a drawing-room, two bed-chambers, and two 
closets. On the 22nd October 1670 the armorial bearings 
of the Earl and Countess, their names, and the year 1670, 
were cut on a stone, which was built in the addition to the 
Castle. " Ther's nothing mor requisitte about any family 
than good watter," says Earl David, and he proceeds to 
narrate the steps he took to ensure good supplies of water 
in the " tu walles (wells) in the outter close of the Castle." 
David third Earl of Wemyss added to the amenities of the 
Castle, and in 1756 his son James, the fourth Earl, worked 
out many improvements. General Wemyss of Wemyss, 
grandson of the fourth Earl, made additions and built the 
stables, which are of a classic style of architecture, and 
which stand on a site on the face of the hill to the north 
of the Castle. 



Adn)iral Wemyss and Mr Hay Erskine Wemyss carried 
out extensions and improvements. After the death of 
Mr Hay Erskine Wemyss, his widow, in conjunction 
with her son, Mr R. G. E. Wemyss, the present laird, 
had a good many changes made. A new saloon and en- 
trance hall were built. The great hall of the Castle has 
recently been restored by Mr Wemyss, and much has been 



Wemyss Castle. 

done for the gardens and grounds. A barrel -vaulted room 
on the ground floor has been converted into a chapel 
which takes the name of the Saint Mary, Star of the Sea 
Chapel. Services are conducted regularly by the Rev. A. 
T. Grant, the chaplain (who has done invaluable work in 
historical research bearing on Fife and other counties), and 


the public are admitted by the lower doorway. A silver 
plate on the splay of the first window bears the following 
inscription : 

" Saint Mary, Star of the Sea, at the Wemyss. To the Glory 
of God. In memory of Milicent Mary Kennedy Erskine, wife of 
James Hay Wemyss of Wemyss. Born xi. May 1831 ; dying at 
home, xi. Feby. 1895, near midnight. This chapel for her dear sake 
is dedicated to the service of God by her surviving children, Mary, 
Randolph, Hvgo, Rosslyn. ' For where your treasure is, there 
will your heart be also.' Dedicated 18 September 1897, by George 
Howard, Lord Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld, and Dunblane." 

In the chapel, which is lit throughout by candles, there 
are many architectural and other features which are in- 
teresting. One of the most noteworthy features is the 
recumbent marble statue of the late Mrs Wemyss, to 
whose memory the chapel is dedicated. The statue is the 
work of Princess Louise, the Duchess of Argyle. Above 
the statue are the following : 

" Sleepe after toyle ; 

Port after stormie seas ; 
Ease after warre ; 

Death after life, does greatly please." 


The old village of East Weinyss lies snugly in a creek 
between Macduff and Wemyss Castles. The new East 
Wemyss, which has sprung into existence in recent years, 
lies on the higher slopes by the Lappy and the Den burns, 
and which afford shelter from the north to the white- 
washed h&uses which form the "auld toon." In the olden 
time the roar of the sea just over the big wall had 
accompaniments in the shape of the click of the weaver's 
shuttle and the rattle of the hand loom To-day there is 
not a hand loom at work in the parish, and if the curious 
want to peep at a spinning wheel or a reel, they must go 
to a drawing-room, where the furniture of a decayed art 
looks much out of place, or to the shop of a collector of 
that which is antique. Although the hand loom is as 
silent as the blowers in the " Glass Cove," it is pleasant to 
be able to state that through the enterprise of Messrs 
Johnston, whose steam factory is well employed, the village 
is what the artist would speak of as "A study in black 
and white" coals and linen. An old miner used to speak 
of the chemiss splint coal as a "jet black coal," and time 
was when linen, after it came from the bleach works which 
from time immemorial have flourished on the banks of the 
Leven, was spoken of in East Wemyss as being "as white 
as the driven snaw." 

The Barony of Easter Wemyss. 

Sir Michael Wemyss of Wemyss, who died between 
1342 and 1346, left no surviving male issue, and his pos- 


sessions were divided among his daughters, three in 
number. The dividing of the estates among the daughters 
led to the distinction between East and West Wemyss. 
One of the daughters married a Livingstone of Drumry. 
It was in 1508 that King James IV. created the lands of 
East Wemyss and part of Lochoreshire into the barony of 
East Wemyss, with the manor of East Wemyss as the 
principal messuage, in favour of Sir Robert Livingstone of 
Drumry. Sir Robert's daughter, Margaret Livingstone, 
who is lovingly spoken of as the " Lady of East .Wemyss,'' 
married Sir James Hamilton of Finnart, the architect of 
Falkland Palace. After Hamilton had obtained Easter 
Wemyss he exchanged it in 1530 with Sir James Colville 
of Ochiltree for his barony and Castle of Ochiltree in Ayr- 
shire. Sir James thus became Colville of Easter Wemyss. 
The new owner of Easter Wemyss was attainted of treason, 
and in 1540, after his death, his lands were forfeited. 
Three years afterwards, however, they were restored to his 
son, who attained distinction in the French wars, and in 
1598 was created Lord Colville of Culross. He was suc- 
ceeded by his grandson, James, second Lord Colville, at 
whose death in 1640 the lands of Easter Wemyss were 
purchased by Sir John, the first Earl of Wemyss, and re- 
united to the barony of Wemyss. The lands of Easter 
Wemyss were therefore exactly a century in the hands of 
the Colville family. David the second Earl of Wemyss 
received a Crown charter of the lands consolidating them 
into the single Barony of Wemyss. 

The Established Church. 

The Established Church of East Wemyss has a long 
history . Sir John of Methil and Wemyss, son of Michael, 
who makes his first appearance historically as a witness to 



a charter in 1202, conveys certain lands to the monks of 
May on behalf of the souls of himself, liis father, mother, 
wife, son, and others. Sir John also, according to the 
custom of the times, enriched the Hospital of Soltre or 
Soutra, a small religious house on a ridge of the Lammer- 
moors, by conveying to the master and brethren there, on 
behalf of his own soul and the souls of ^Earl Duncan and 
others, all his rights in the Church of St Mary of Werayss, 

J. Patrick] 

Established Church, East Wemyss. 


to be held as alms for the benefit of the poor in the 
Hospital of Soutra. Sir William Eraser states that the 
charter was not dated, but he argues from other evidence 
that it must have been granted about 1239. In 1261 the 
Bishop of St Andrews confirms the charter, and provides 
for an honourable sustenance to the vicar who served the 
church of Wemyss on behalf of the brethren of Soutra, and 
for the payment of a pension due annually by the church 


of Wemyss to the Dysart church. In 1321 Sir David 
Wemyss confirmed the charter, and granted the brethren 
or their men power to make malt and to sell it. 

Sir William Fraser records an appearance of Sir John 
Wemyss, in the Parish Church of Wemyss, in connection 
with certain lands. A Church dispute of considerable 
interest is recorded as having occurred in the days of the 
first David of Wemyss, in 1527. .It appears that a 
dispute had arisen between Sir David and Sir John 
Dingwall, who held the double office of Provost of Trinity 
College, Edinburgh, and vicar of the Parish Church of 
Wemyss. The fishermen of East Wemyss and Buckhaven 
joined the Laird and were parties to the action. Contrary 
to the practice of the times, Sir John Dingwall made an 
appeal to the Court of Rome. For this " contumacy" the 
judges gave judgment in favour of Sir David Wemyss and 
his fishermen friends, and under pain of excommunication 
the Provost- Vicar was called upon to pay the costs of the 
plea, 99 8s 8d Scots. The sentence was announced 
during High Mass in the church of Wemyss, in presence of 
the parishioners. Among the parishioners the sentence 
was received with joy ; but Sir John Dingwall did not 
repent of " contumacy," and he was excommunicated for 
his pains. A settlement of the dispute was ultimately 
effected, however, by arbitration. And in connection with 
the finding of the arbiters it is interesting to note that the 
vicar was advised to yield up the offerings due to him from 
St Mary's Chapel, because the Parish Church of Wemyss 
was being "built or repaired by Sir Patrick Jackson, the 
chaplain." Here in 1528 we have a specific statement 
showing that the church, which probably dated back to 
the days of David I., was being practically re-built. 


It may be interesting to state that the Hospital of 
Soutra was in 1462 annexed by the Queen of James II. to 
Trinity College Church, Edinburgh, which thus acquired 
the kirk and kirk-lands of Wemyss. After the Reforma- 
tion of 1560, Trinity College Church was bestowed on the 
city of Edinburgh, and the Lord Provost, Magistrates, and 
other representatives became the patrons and titulars of 
the teinds. The sub-Committee of the Presbytery of 
Kirkcaldy commuted the payment in victual into money 
West Wemyss paying 748 10s 8d Scots, and East 
Wemyss, 607 18s 8d of the total, which was to be col- 
lected by the Laird of Wemyss. 800 merks went to the 
minister and 800 to the Town Council of Edinburgh. In 
1650 the stipend was raised to 1200 merks. Sir John, 
Earl of Wemyss, was at this time an uncompromising 
Presbyterian, and united with his fellow-countrymen in 
opposing King Charles' attempt to force Episcopacy on the 

The church at East Wemyss was much improved in 
1792. Writing in 1794, the Rev. George Gibb gives us the 
following glimpse at Church affairs in the parish : 

" The stipend, as settled by the Court of Session in February 
1794, is 50 of money, 64 bolls of meal, 32 bolls of bear, and 
5 11s l^d for furnishing communion elements. The manse was 
built in 1791, and to the honour of the heritor is one of the best in 
the country. . . . The glebe contains between eight and nine 
acres. There are some rocks and seaweed which belong to the 
minister, and as this property is near the glebe, it is of great 
advantage for manure. For the kelp from the rocks the present 
incumbent has received about 5 5s every three years.'' 

Writing in 1838, the Rev. John M'Lachlan says : 

" The church has sittings for about 1000 persons. It is far too 
small for the parish. From 900 to 1000 communicate annually. 
The people are very attentive to the ordinances of religion. The 


stipend is 17 chalders, half meal and half barley, converted at the 
rate of the highest fiars of the county, with 10 for communion 
elements. There are some rocks and seaweed or ware that belong 
to the cure." 

Recently the church was re-seated. A handsome pipe- 
organ has been introduced, and the baptismal font, the 
communion table, and other furnishings, are extremely 
handsome. There are as many as 620 names on the com- 
munion roll. 

The present manse was built in 1791. The manse of the 
olden time stands immediately behind the dwelling of to- 
day, the date stone showing that it was built in 1673. 
The Kirk Session records date without a break back to 
1645. The communion vessels are as interesting as the 
records. There are two silver mazers and four communion 
cups. The mazers are 9 inches in height and 8| inches in 
diameter at the mouth, and the cups are 10 inches by 4f . 
The following is a copy of the inscriptions : 

MAZEKS (1.) Given by The Countes of Leven to the Kirk of 
Weyms, Anno 1673. (2.) Given by My Lord Bruntisland to the 
Kirk of Weyms, Anno 1673. 

CUPS (1.) Given by the Countess of Wemysse to the Kirk of 
Wemysse, 1673. (2.) Given by the Countess of Wemysse to the 
Kirk of Wemysse, 1673. (3.) Given by My Lady Bruntiland to 
the Kirk of The Wemysse, 1673. (4.) Given by Master James 
Nairn, to the Kirk of Wemysse, 1673. 

There are four flagons, which bear the date 1794, and 
two pewter salvers dated 1799. 

The Ministers of the Parish. 

After the Reformation, the parish was first supplied by 
John Bousie, reader. He was in the parish from 1576 to 1680. 
John Tullus, the natural nephew of Mr Andrew Binnet, 
minister of Moninmil, and reader at Foules-Wester, took 


up duty in the parish about 1585. Mr Tullus was granted 
a certain sum out of the rent of Trinity College, on con- 
dition that Mr Robert Pont, who was stated to have the 
" haill rent of the Provostry," paid the other half of the 
stipend. As a minister Mr Tullus is stated to have been 
" weak," but he held the post despite his weakness until 
he died in June 1636. Patrick Mearns, a graduate of St 
Andrews University, took up duty for Mr Tullus. He 
was presented by the Town Council of Edinburgh. He 
was admitted on 8th September 1636, but had only been 
in the parish fifteen months when he died "ane young 
man unmairrit." 

The godly George Gillespie followed. Gillespie, who 
was the son of the Rev. John Gillespie, the minister of 
Kirkcaldy, was born in 1613. He was presented to 
Wemyss on 5th January 1638, and on the llth of the 
same month the Archbishop of St Andrews wrote asking 
the Moderator to try the new minister. The Moderator 
was not prepared to usurp the functions of the Presbytery 
at the dictation of the Archbishop, and he advised the 
brethren to " prescrybe ane text" to Gillespie "to teach" 
in Kirkcaldy. On the 18th January he preached, and, 
says Scott in his "Fasti," "got the usual testimonial." 
Instead of being admitted by the Archbishop he was 
ordained by the Presbytery, and the Covenant was signed 
by all the ministers present. Through Gillespie's ordina- 
tion Wemyss had the honour conferred upon it of having 
the second minister in Scotland who was ordained, after 
Episcopacy was established, without the countenance of 
the Archbishop. Six months after his ordination to 
Wemyss he was also presented to Methil by David Lord 


At the age of 24, while a tutor to James Lord Kennedy, 
Mr Gillespie wrote a book which bore the title, " A Dis- 
pute against the English Popish Ceremonies obtruded on 
the Church of Scotland." The ordination at Wemyss of 
the author of the book was noised abroad, and in ISTovem- 
ber 1838, the very month he combined the duties of the 
minister of Methil with those of Wemyss, he was chosen 
to preach before the memorable Assembly of the Church of 
Scotland in Glasgow. Baillie says : " In his sermon the 
youth very learnedly and judiciously, as they say, handled 
the words 'The King's heart is in the hand of the Lord.' " 
Gillespie thereafter became chaplain to the army of Cove- 
nanters, and was a Commissioner from the Church of 
Scotland to the Westminster Assembly of Divines, who 
were appointed to draw up the Shorter Catechism. At 
Westminster he acquitted himself as well as he did at 
Glasgow. Apparently overlooking the fact that a defini- 
tion of God had hundred of years before been given by 
Christ in the words, " God is a spirit," the divines were 
completely nonplussed when they came to give their minds 
to the question, " What is God ? " Gillespie was asked to 
pray for guidance, and he began his prayer by addressing 
God "as a spirit, infinite, eternal, unchangeable in His 
being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and 
truth." The Westminster divines were struck with the 
terms of the prayer, and at once accepted them as a defini- 
tion of the question, " What is God ?" 

In 1641 the minister of Wemyss was called to Aber- 
deen, but his removal to the Granite City was prevented 
by a majority in the Assembly. At the same time, it was 
thought that he would be a good man for St Andrews, but 
the prosecution of a call to the "City by the Sea" was 


discouraged. In 1642 he had a pension bestowed upon 
him by His Majesty, and then came his translation to Old 
Greyfriars Church, Edinburgh. In 1647 he was selected 
to succeed Alexander Henderson in the High Church, but 
here his labours were soon ended. On 17th December 
1648 he died in the 36th year of his age and the eleventh 
year of his ministry. So ended the life of one of the most 
brilliant stars associated with the Church of Scotland in 
far off days. The Apostle James compares life to a vapour 
that appeareth for a little time and then vanishes away. 
Gillespie's life was a very short one, but before he vanished 
from the courts of the Assembly of the Church of Scotland 
he left on record something which was more enduring than 
a vapour : 

' ' One crowded hour of glorious life 
Is worth an age without a name." 

Some other Hinisters. 

Gillespie was succeeded by Harie Wilkie, who was 
translated from the little parish of Portmoak, on the banks 
of Loch Leven, at the earnest desire of John Earl of 
Wemyss, on 19th October 1642. Scott tells us that 
Wilkie was a "little, knackity (self-conceited) body." He 
was challenged before the Synod on September 1657 for 
certain speeches he had made which were not seemly, and 
for things done at a daughter's marriage, but the "knackity 
body" was acquitted. He died on 7th October 1664. 

James Nairne, an A.M. from Bolton, was admitted on 
31st May 1665. He was a learned man, and was offered 
a bishopric in 1671, but refused it. He demitted his 
charge in 1678, and died in July following. He is 
written of as "the most eloquent of all our preachers, and 
a person of very considerable learning " ; but with all his 


learning he does not seem to have been very sound in the 
faith, for he was "inclinable to Pelagian tenets." The 
school of Pelagius denied the doctrine of original sin. 
Nairue bequeathed his library to the University of Edin- 
burgh. Alexander Monro came next, from the parish of 
Kinglassie. He was admitted in June 1678. Like his 
predecessor, he was a man of considerable learning. In 
1682 he was appointed Professor of Divinity in the Uni- 
versity of St Andrews, and accordingly demitted his 
charge in Werayss. Alexander Lundie, A.M., who came 
from Carnbee, was admitted on 14th May 1683. Within 
three years he was translated to Cupar, and made way for 
Alexander Ker, an A.M. of St Andrews, who took up 
duty in Wemyss on 8th September 1686. He was de- 
prived of the living by Privy Council on 29th August 
1689. He was succeeded by William Tullidaff, A.M., 
formerly of Kilbirnie, and then came the following minis- 
ters : Archibald Riddell, A.M., from Kippen, 26th Sep- 
tember 1691, translated to Kirkcaldy, January 1697 ; 
Thomas Black, from Strathmiglo, 1697 to 1698; James 
Grierson, September 1698 to May 1710; John Cleghorn, 
A.M., from Burntisland, February 1711 to July 1744, 
when he died, aged 65 years. 

Harry Spens, an A.M. of King's College, Aberdeen, 
succeeded Cleghorn. He was ordained in November 1 744, 
had the degree of D.D. conferred upon him by his Alma 
Mater in October 1761, and was elected Moderator of the 
General Assembly on 25th May 1780 by a majority of 112 
votes against 106 cast for Sir Henry Moncrieff of Well- 
wood, Bart. In October of the same year he was admitted 
Professor of Divinity in St Mary's College, St Andrews, 
and forthwith demitted his charge in Wemyss. Spens 


died in 1787, aged 73 years. It is 125 years since Spens 
preached his farewell sermon in Wemyss, and yet his 
memory is held in loving remembrance in the parish, be- 
cause of the attitude he adopted towards a slave who had 
come with his master to Methil. [This incident was 
referred to at length under the Methil notes.] William 
Greenfield, who came to the parish in September 1781, had 
only been three years in the district when he was called to 
his native city, Edinburgh. George Gibb, the writer of the 
article on Wemyss in the " Old Statistical Account of 
Scotland," was the next minister. He was ordained on 
31st March 1785, and remained in Wemyss until he died, 
llth April 1818. The Rev. John M'Lauchlan, who writes 
on Wemyss in the "New Statistical Account," was pre- 
sented by the Town Council of Edinburgh on July 1818 
and admitted in February of the following year. He died 
on 13th February 1850 in the 65th year of his age, and 
37th of his ministry. Mr M'Lauchlan was succeeded by 
Mr Wm. Poison, M.A., who laboured in the parish for 43 
years from 1850 to 1893. Mr Poison's remains were 
interred in the cemetery under the shadow of the ruins of 
the old castle of the parish in which he had toiled so long. 
The Rev. John Kennedy, the present pastor, was a 
student of Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities, and is an 
M.A., B.D. He was licensed as a preacher by the Presby- 
tery of St Andrews, and in 1892 took up duty as an 
assistant in Kirkcaldy. Mr Kennedy was ordained to the 
parish of Wemyss in 1894. 

The United Free Church. 

The United Free Church congregation of the village of 
East Wemyss sprang into existence in connection with the 
Disruption of 1843. The church and the manse stand on 


the ground of the " Haugh," with a magnificent view of 
the Forth and the southern shores. The " Haugh " is 
historic ground. In the days of the godly Geo. Gillespie 
it formed the glebe of the Parish Church. In the Dis- 
ruption wave of 1843, when difficulties were being ex- 
perienced in many parishes over the procuring of sites for 
churches, Mrs Swan, the mother of the late ex-Provost 
Swan of Kirkcaldy, proved a friend to the newly-formed 
congregation of East Wemyss, who first met in a hay loft 
above a stable. She owned the " Haugh," and at once 
placed a site for the church and manse at the disposal of 
the Dissenters. Adherents of the cause led by Dr 
Chalmers joined the congregation, from Methil on the 
east to West Wemyss on the west, and when the new 
church was opened in the summer of 1844, the members 
and adherents numbered as many as 600. The Rev. John 
M'Lauchlan, the minister of the parish, chose to remain in 
the Establishment, and the congregation called the Rev. 
George F. Knight, who had for twelve years been a 
parish minister in Berwickshire. The choice was an 
exceedingly happy one. Mr Knight was a man of 
scholarly attainments, and being blessed with a store of 
excellent health, he did splendid work in the parish for 
well nigh half a century. The increasing burden of years 
led him to ask a colleague and successor in the summer of 
1881, and in August of that year a colleague in the person 
of the Rev. L. A. Muirhead, M.A., B.D., took up duty. 
Mr Knight died in 1891, and his remains found a fitting 
resting place in the cemetery of the parish in which he had 
toiled so long and so faithfully. The stone which marks 
his grave bears the following inscription : 

" In memory of George Fulton Knight, for 12 years minister of 
the parish of Modington, Berwickshire, and for 47 years minister 


of the Free Church of Wemyss, Fifeshire. Born at Edinburgh, 
April 1808 ; died at Manchester, February 1891." 

Mr Knight has a gifted family. Mr W. Knight, St 
Andrews, professor and author, is one of his sons; Rev. 
George Knight, of Glasgow, is another, while a third son 
has attained distinction in medicine. Mr Muirheadwas 
called to St Luke's, Broughty Ferry, in 1893. He is the 
author of " The Times of Christ," " Eschatology of Jesus," 
and other works, and in March 1905 he had the honorary 
degree of D.D. conferred upon him by the University of St 
Andrews. Mr J. C. B. Geddes, who was an assistant in 
Free St George's, Edinburgh, succeeded Dr Muirhead. 
Mr Geddes was ordained in May 1893. He accepted a call 
to Largs in 1901. The Rev. R. H. Strachan, M.A., was 
ordained in June 1901, and after a ministry of three years 
he accepted a call to the United Free Church, Elie, which 
is one of the prizes in the " Kingdom." The Rev. G. D. 
Low, the present minister, was ordained to the charge in 
August 1904. Mr Low is a graduate of Edinburgh Uni- 
versity. On leaving the Hall he went to St Petersburg 
and laboured as an assistant in the British-American 
Church there. On his return to Scotland, he accepted an 
assistantship at Moffat, and was fulfilling the duties of 
assistant at Gullane when he was called to East Wemyss. 

A Famous Schoolmaster. 

In 1748, in the days of James fourth Earl of Wemyss, 
and the stirring times which followed the Rebellion of 
1745, John Grub was appointed schoolmaster of the parish 
school of East Wemyss. Just after his appointment Mr 
Grub had the misfortune to be struck on one of his 
knees by a golf ball. A white swelling supervened, and 
the schoolmaster of Wemyss was compelled to submit to the 


loss of his leg. Upon his recovery he proposed to the 
young lady who had nursed him through his illness, was 
accepted, and she proved a dutiful and loving wife. The 
loss of a limb did not impair Mr Grub's usefulness as a 
teacher. Within a few years his fame as a teacher had 
gone beyond the bounds of the parish, and in addition to a 
large attendance at the school, he had many young men 
boarders from, says his biographer, " many respectable 
families in different parts of the country." In seven short 
years the school " had risen to a very great character " and 
was spoken of as a "Grammar School." In 1755, when Mi- 
Grub was in the height of his fame, he was smitten down 
by a fever and died. He had only seen thirty summers. 
His biographer says : 

" Mr Grub's character made his death very much to be re- 
gretted by all the people of the parish of Wemyss, by all his 
scholars, and by all that knew him. Ho left behind him a discon- 
solate widow to lament his death, and a young son. His widow 
afterwards went to the village of Leven, and survived her husband 
it is not certain how many years ; and Robert Grub, their son, on 
recommendation, having gone to settle in the West Indies, died at 
St Kitts under or about twenty years of age." 

Mr Grub had many merits as a teacher. He made 
elocution a special feature, and his exhibitions on Shrove 
Tuesday and at the closing examinations for the harvest 
holidays became so famous in the " Kingdom " that educa- 
tionists from all parts of the district flocked to East 
Wemyss to be present at the "literary entertainments." 
In addition to teaching the pupils the "Three R's," Mr 
Grub prepared " orations " for the higher classes on various 
themes. The pupils got the " orations " by heart, and at 
the harvest vacation they mounted the teacher's desk, and 
delivered the speeches. Mr Grub's custom was to prepare 
three "orations" upon any specified subject. The first 


speaker presented the case for reform, or in support of any 
good principle, the second presented a different view, and 
the third supported the first speaker. In the three 
" orations " on " cock-fighting " delivered on 6th February 
1753, we have interesting glimpses at the school customs 
of the eighteenth century in the parish of Wemyss. In 
the first " oration " we are told that from time immemorial 
it had been the custom in Wemyss to make one day in the 
year remarkable for the inhuman practice of " bringing 
many of the noblest of the feathered creation to a lingering 
and cruel death." The young orator in Wemyss School 
accordingly moves a motion to the effect that although 
cock-fighting was riot so " savage and barbarous as throw- 
ing cocks," yet it should be discouraged at our schools. 
The pupil who replies argues strongly in favour of the 
schoolboys' " diversion on Fasterns E'en." When a cock 
fought well it, " raised the noble ambition in youth." It 
was, he further said, an " old custom of the school," and 
should be kept up. The pupil who wound up the debate 
argued for a more noble diversion than that of cock- 
fighting, and under Mr Grub the abominable practice was 
abolished, and in the school of East Wemyss Shrove 
Tuesday became as notable for its " literary contests " as it 
had been for cock-fighting. 

Shrove Tuesday, it may be interesting to state, was so 
called from being anciently associated with priestly absolu- 
tion. The day immediately precedes the commencement 
of Lent, and in Scotland it was known as Fasterns E'en, 
that is, Fasting Eve. The mode of observing the day 
differed very much throughout Scotland. At Stirling the 
young people procured eggs, which in the morning they 
coloured with devices, and in the evening they met in the 


fields and there boiled and consumed the eggs. In the 
Border towns the day is to this day set aside for hand-ball, 
and time was when the married women challenged the 
spinsters in a game at football. In many places cock- 
fighting was the sport indulged it. According to Dr 
Rogers, we have the Duke of York to thank for having in 
1681 introduced cock-fighting into Scotland. To the 
village schoolroom every youth, from an early period of the 
eighteenth century to its close, bore a cock which had 
been reared for the Fastern E'en struggle. The school- 
masters presided. The birds which fell in the conflicts 
were assigned to the teacher as a perquisite, and the poor 
" fugies " which refused to fight, and displayed more sense 
than the people who cast them into the cockpits, were also 
claimed as the master's property. Although Mr Grub 
succeeded in abolishing cock-fighting at East Wemyss 
school, the barbarous sport was continued by adults in the 
parish, and indeed throughout Fife, until about the middle 
of the nineteenth century. 

History of the Linen Industry. 

Away back about 250 years ago, almost every sub- 
stantial family in the parish made a few pieces of good 
linen annually from yarn of their own spinning. Some of 
the goods were appropriated for the use of the families, 
and the surplus goods were sent to the fairs in the parishes 
of Wemyss and Scoonie, and there found a ready market. 
About 1740 there were five fishing boats with five men in 
each at East Wemyss. By 1790 four of the boats had 
vanished, and only one was at work. This was due to the 
fact that in 1750 fishing was practically dropped in the 
village, and the manufacture of linen became the staple 
industry. That the people of East Wemyss plied the 


shuttle to some purpose will be apparent when it is stated 
that in 1807, when the Board of Trustees offered prizes 
for the best and second best raven-duck, harn-shirting, 
huckaback, diaper, and plain linen, quite an army of 
weavers entered the competition from the village of East 
Wemyss, and as many as five of them carried off prizes. 
Noted as it was for linen, only three prizes went to Dun- 
fermline, and two to the great city of Edinburgh, whose 
Drumsheugh works were then known throughout Scotland. 
The decision of the Board of Trustees corroborated the 
claim made in 1790 for East Wemyss linen by the minister 
of the parish. The Rev. George Gibb says : 

" The linen now made is generally well known for its quality 
and fineness. Most of it is made from Scotch flax, the greatest 
part of which is spun in the parish. It is thought by manu- 
facturers to be superior to any in the country. . . . There are 
about 120 looms employed." 

Messrs James & George Johnston commenced business 
in the village of East Wemyss in 1828, and for many years 
they had looms at work in the parish of Wemyss and 
adjoining parishes. Carts were sent round the shops daily 
and collected the goods as they were cut from the looms. 
The Messrs Johnston soon built up a splendid business, 
but by 1850 " changing shadows" had begun to hang like 
a funeral pall over the handloom industry. At Dunferm- 
line, at Dundee, and Kirkland large handloom factories 
had been built, and this was doing away with the system 
of the toiler sitting at his own loom, under his own vine 
and under his own tig tree, and this system was followed 
by the introduction of the power-loom. As the power- 
loom became perfected, loom after loom in the little red- 
roofed shops was stopped, and by 1858 many of the old 


weavers in Fife had begun to look upon the fittings of 
their shops as the "four stoops of misery." In 1859 the 
Messrs Johnston had something like 200 handlooms at 
work in East Wemyss and elsewhere ; but they were men 
who were fully alive to the necessity for a change, and in 
1860 they opened the power-loom linen works which are 
situated on the Haugh. At first 100 looms were set in 
motion ; but as time wore on an additional 100 looms 
were fitted up. The success of the power-loom gradually 
brought about the annihilation of the hand-loom, and the 
loom-shops of other days have all been turned into dwel- 
ling-houses. Mr George Johnston died in 1874, and Mr 
James Johnston in 1876. The founders were succeeded 
by the two sons of the latter, Mr James W. Johnston and 
Mr W. Russell Johnston, and the partnership of the 
brothers of to-day has in every respect been as happy as 
that of the founders. Mr James W. Johnston is chairman 
of the School Board of the parish. He joined the 
Volunteers in 1860, and as Lieutenant, Captain, Major, 
and Lieutenant-Colonel, he has done as much for the 
citizen army movement in the district as he has done for 
education. In connection with the Volunteer Review of 
September 1905 Colonel Johnston had the honour of 
having the Royal Victorian Order conferred upon him by 
the King. Mr W. Russell Johnston has represented the 
Eastern Division of Wemyss in the County Council since 
1898, and a splendid representative he makes. 

Mining in the District. 

In the olden time, when the successive lords of the 
manor carried on mining and salt-manufacturing at West 
Wemyss and Methil, East Wemyss, like Buckhaven, 


stood a village apart. Comparatively few of the residents 
of East Wemyss took up raining. With the opening of 
the Rosie pit of Muiredge Colliery, nearly twenty years 
ago, and latterly the sinking of the Michael shafts by 
the Wemyss Coal Company, the whole aspect of things 
changed. Miners began to take up residence in East 
Wemyss, and during the past decade the old-world village 
has been completely surrounded by new houses. The 
population of the village had risen from 1010 in 1891 to 
2522 in 1901, and a census to-day would show a popula- 
tion of at least 3000 souls. 

The Brewery. 

Time was when ale was the general drink of the 
people of Scotland, and in the royal burghs and burghs 
of barony there were no more prosperous class than the 
brewers. From time immemorial there has been a brewery 
at East Wemyss. Mr Gibb, writing in 1794, says : 

" A gentleman in East Wemyss, who carries on a considerable 
brewery, lately began to import wood from the Baltic, which has 
been a great advantage to the neighbourhood." 

Like the fishing arid the handloom industries, the im- 
portation of wood at East Wemyss has ceased, but the 
brewery still remains. Nearly 100 years ago it fell into 
the hands of the Eddington family, and 70 years ago the 
brewery was acquired by two brothers, James and George 
Brown, the one taking up duty at East Wemyss and the 
other at Leven. In the hands of the two brothers the 
businesses increased, and the sparkling Wemyss ales 
became famous in and outside the county of Fife. The 
remains of the founders of the firm of 70 years ago lie in 
the cemetery which overlooks the brewery, but as a firm 


J. & G. Brown still exists, the business being carried on 
at Wemyss and Leven by Mr George Brown, sen., and Mr 
George Brown, jun., a son and grandson of one of the 
founders. The brewers of to-day have recently made 
considerable extensions to the buildings, and despite the 
keen competition of the times the Wemyss ale still holds 
its own in the market. 

The Hall and the Reading=Room. 

Undoubtedly one of the most interesting modern 
buildings in the village is the hall and reading-room. 
One of the young orators of Mr John Grub, the famous 
eighteenth century teacher, speaking in East Wemyss 
school at the Shrove Tuesday demonstration of February 
1753 to the parents of the village, says : 

"I lay hold of this opportunity, in the name of all my school- 
fellows, to return you our most hearty thanks for your generosity 
in contributing last year in so handsome a manner for a public 
library to our school." 

The library established in 1752 in the village was 
appreciated by the parents as well as the children, and 
the demand for books among the handloom weavers was 
such that in 1817 a subscription library was founded. A 
tradesmen's library was opened in 1830. In 1859 a reading 
room was opened, and in this room the books of the other 
libraries were ultimately brought together. The old read- 
ing-room had completely burst its bounds in the early 
nineties, and the late Dr Edward A. Watson commenced 
an agitation for the erection of a public hall, library, and 
recreation rooms. The old reading-room was deserted in 
November 1900, and the new building taken possession 
of. The following is a copy of an inscription on a marble 
tablet in the hall : 


" Erected by public subscription, in grateful recognition of the 
professional ability and public services of Edward A. Watson, 
M.D., for 28 years physician in Wemyss Parish. Born 8th May 
1837 ; died 5th March 1897." 

It was chiefly by his efforts that funds were attained for 
the erection of the hall. 


Writing in 1859, Farnie says : "West Wemyss is a 
burgh of barony, and is governed by two bailies, a trea- 
surer, and a council." The town still prides itself on being 
a burgh of barony, and in possessing magistrates ; but in 
recent years the old Council has been gradually stripped of 
its powers, and the bodies responsible for the government 
of West Wemyss are the Fife County Council, Wemyss 
School Board, and Wemyss Parish Council. 

As time passes, the tendency is to move the coal works 
eastwards, and while East Wemyss, Buckhaven, and the 
Methil of other days are being surrounded by new towns, 
the streets of " Barncraig " remain much as they were a 
century ago. The Windy Wynd, the Haw Head, the 
Cox'el, arid the Poun's are still with us, and at one or 
other of the respective rendezvous g? - oups of residents 
gather as in days of yore and discuss the local and 
imperial problems of the day. As in the days when 
Gabriel Setoun wrote " Barncraig," women emerge from 
their doorways and "sincl" their teapots, and on the 
Saturdays the outside stairs and the doorsteps are as 
much scrubbed and "sanded" for the Sunday as they 
were a century ago. 

In 1791 the population of West Wemyss was 769 
209 more than East Wemyss, 169 more than Buckhaven, 


and more than the double of Methil. The following table 
shows the census of the old hurgh from 1821 : 

1821 502 1871 1231 

1831 858 1881 - 1206 

1841 947 1891 1300 

1851 1013 1901 - 1253 

1861 - ^1128 

When created a Barony Burgh. 

David of Wemyss received the honour of knighthood 
in 1510, and the following year King James IV. erected 
the lands of West Wemyss into the barony of Wemyss. 
The charter gave power to constitute the haven town of 
Wemyss as a burgh under the lords of the manor. In 
1515, Sir David granted the burgesses the usual privileges 
of a burgh of the olden time, and among the privileges 
enumerated were two fairs a year, one on 2nd July and 
the other on 20th October. The Castle of Wemyss was 
ordained to be the principal messuage of the barony of 

In 1589, James VI. confirmed the barony of Wemyss 
in favour of John Wemyss, eldest son of David Wemyss 
of that ilk, enlarging the barony so as to include the 
other lands which had been acquired in 1511. In 1630 
Sir John Wemyss acquired the barony of East Wemyss, 
and in 1651, in the days of Charles II., David second 
Earl of Wemyss obtained a charter erecting the baronies 
of East Wemyss, West Wemyss, and Methil into the 
barony of Wemyss, with the tower, fortalice, and manor- 
place of Wemyss as the principal messuage of the whole. 
This charter was ratified by the King and Parliament in 
1661. The reinstatement of the bishops brought changes, 
however, and for some time Methil was separated from 


the barony of Wemyss, and under a charter granted by 
Archbishop Sharpe enjoyed a species of home rule. After 
the Revolution another Act affecting Wemyss was passed, 
and in 1711, in the days of David third Earl of Wemyss 
the three baronies were included in one holding to such 
an extent that one sasine taken at the manor-place of 
West Wemyss or upon any part of the Wemyss lands 
sufficed for the whole. 

The Tolbooth. 

In 1592 West Wemyss ranked among the burghs along 
the shores of the Forth as a place where proclamation 
might be made at its market cross of an Act warning 
seamen and others against the killing of solan geese upon 
the Bass Rock. The burgh had its tolbooth where the 
lord of the manor held his baronial courts and meted out 
justice to offenders. Sir William Fraser points out, how- 
ever, that serious cases were sometimes disposed of by 
friendly arbitration outside the walls of the tolbooth, and 
he gives an illustration by giving the details connected 
with the "hushing up" of one offence. In March 1586-7 
the burgh was thrown into a terrible state of consterna- 
tion and excitement. A burgess named James Skadowie 
had in the course of a quarrel struck a resident named 
William Ferrar. Ferrar died from the blow. Skadowie 
had only acted in self-defence, and on his agreeing to 
pay compensation to the relatives of the dead man the 
"mother and rest of kin" agreed to forgive and "remit 
the slaughter." A document embodying the agreement 
was drawn up, and was attested by a bailie of the burgh 
and others. 

In 1666 West Wemyss was a burgh which was allowed 
to hold six annual fairs a year and a weekly market on 



the Fridays. About 1590 the burgh attained to an un- 
fortunate notoriety among the seaport towns of Scotland. 
It was the doorway by which the country experienced a 
new visit of the plague. The plague had been raging in 
England. An infected English barque entered the harbour 
of West Wemyss, and in a short time the plague was 


The Tolbooth, Wemyss. 


ravaging the residents of the burghs and villages along 
the whole coast of the " Kingdom." 


The Remains of St Mary's Chapel. 

The history of the ivy-clad ruins of the Lady Chapel 
in the Chapel Gardens, which have now become the last 
resting-place of the Wemyss family, goes back to the days 
when the monks of Dunferinliue were getting coals in the 
" heughs " of Pittencrieff and distributing the " black 
stanes" among the poor at the church doors. In 1536 
Sir Patrick Jackson was chaplain of Sc Mary's Chapel at 
Wester Wemyss. Sir Patrick spent 1000 on the chapel 
and manse, and the laird of Wemyss in consequence be- 
stowed on the chapel certain lands. The chapel had 
a saltpan and a dovecot attached to it, and the laird 
granted free coals to the chapel pan. After the Reforma- 
tion the old ohapel was deserted as a place of worship, 
and when David Lord Elcho was married to the Hon. 
Anna Balfour (Burley), on February 1627, the Master and 
his young wife took up residence at the chapel. They lived 
in the chapel for twelve years The Master spent 200 in 
laying out the gardens, which are prettily situated. The 
house to the west of the chapel was built by Admiral 
Wemyss, and was for many years the residence of the late Mi- 
Thomas Eyewater, manager of Wemyss colliery. 

A Glimpse at the Town of To-day. 

The tolbooth, with its Dutch-looking steeple, is the 
most striking building in Barncraig. The old school has 
been transformed into dwelling-houses, and the teachers 
now labour in the Dorothy School, of modern date, which 
stands on the crest of the hill beyond Church Street. The 
church, built nearly seventy years ago by Lady Emma Hay, 
the wife of Admiral Wemyss, is now a gymnasium. The 
Rev. John Thomson, who died in September 1905, aged 71 


years, preached the last sermon in the old church on 
Sunday, 2nd November 1895, and on the following 
Sunday pastor and congregation took possession of the 
new church, which stands on a site in what was once 
known as West Wemyss Cemetery, and which takes the 
name of St Adrian's Church. The cemetery was the gift 
of the Wemyss family, and Mr Wemyss, the present 
laird, defrayed the cost of the church 2200. The 
church is seated for 600 people, and is comfortably filled 
every Sunday. 

The late Rev. J. Thomson was a native of the little parish 
of Muckhart. He laid the foundation of his education at 
the village school of Muckhart, and afterwards studied at 
Dollar Academy. At Dollar Mr Thomson was a dis- 
tinguished student, and maintained the high level at the 
University of Edinburgh, where he graduated with 
honours. In 1867, just three years after the lamented 
death of Mr James Hay Erskine Wemyss, Mr Thomson 
took up residence in W T est Wemyss as the catechist under 
the deed of mortification (1705) by the Earl of Cromarty, 
who was married to the Countess of Wemyss. Mr Thom- 
son's qualifications as a scholar commended themselves to 
the Wemyss family, and he became tutor in the family, 
forming a friendship which was maintained to the day of 
his death. In 1874 Mr Thomson was ordained as the pastor 
of West Wemyss Established Church, and a year after- 
wards the church was endowed and was raised from the 
position of a mission station to that of a quoad sacra. 

During the past year some of the red-roofed buildings, 

which were occupied at one time by salters, at the east 

end of Church Street, have disappeared, and have given 

place to a handsome gateway which forms the western 



entrance to Wemyss Castle. On the shore one seeks in 
vain for the site of the Old Engine pit, or the sites of the 
seven saltpans which were in operation in 1790. The 
complete effacement of the old hives of industry is due to 
the fact that the shore has been undermined by the coal 
workings of comparatively recent times, and has fallen to 
such a level that the sea now claims considerable stretches 
of the sandy beach on which the children of fifty years 
ago spent many pleasant hours. The Victoria pit is still 
in operation, but the Lady Emma, which adjoins it, is 
deserted and dismantled. The old fittings are depressing 
to look at, and the stranger seeks in vain for the salt 
girnel which at one time formed the distributing house 
for salt, and latterly for an abounding charity. 

The Harbour, Past and Present. 

In 1510, when West Wemyss was erected into a burgh 
of barony, it was written of as the " Haven town of 
Wemyss." In 1565, when Queen Mary married Darnley, 
the laird of Wemyss was appointed keeper of the havens 
of West Wemyss and East Wemyss for the intercepting 
of enemies to the King and Queen. The Rev. George Gibb, 
writing about 1790, states that the harbour was a good one, 
and tells us that some years previously it had been greatly 
improved by a basin for cleaning it having been con- 
structed. Much as it was improved in Mr Gibb's time, 
it was found to be inadequate for the Wemyss coal trade 
in the late Mrs Wemyss' time, and in 1870 she had a 
wet dock constructed. The dock completely changed the 
whole aspect of things in the vicinity of the Victoria and 
the Lady Emma pits. 

Farnie thus writes of East and West Wemyss : 
' Although in closer contiguity to the Castle than East 


Wemyss, the grimy burgh of barony is not the holiday 
pride of the people of the parish. No ; West Wemyss is 
useful, East Wemyss is ornamental." Before many years 
have elapsed, Barncraig will have become the ornamental 
town. Coals have been gotten along the " golden fringe " 
from the Chapel Gardens to the site of the old salt works 
for 500 years. The workable seams are now getting 
exhausted. In 1904 operations were suspended at the 

Milliken] [Kirkcaldy 

West Wemyss Harbour. 

Lady Emma pit, and the area of coal still to work from 
the Victoria is so much restricted that the steam will be 
permanently blown off in a comparatively few years, 

In the days when Sir John Wemyss of Reres and 
Wemyss and the lairds who immediately succeeded him 
tabernacled in the district, the seagulls and wild ducks 
had undisputed possession of the bay between the bold red 


rocks on which the Castle stands and the ancient chapel 
which was the residence of the vicar of Wemyss. When 
the last cage has been drawn in the Victoria pit, and we 
are left with only the echoes of the old cries, "Bend up" 
and " Chap two and hang the hammer," the sea birds 
which haunt the shores of the old haven town and the 
town of Dysart will again take possession of the bay. 
And so at every turn in this age of change and decay we 
have history repeating itself. 


In 1784, when the coals raised in Fife were carried to 
the Baltic ports and the Mediterranean in small ships, 
the people of West Wemyss came to the conclusion that 
what could be done at Dysart could also be done at Barn- 
craig, and a shipbuilding yard was opened. In 1790 a 
good many journeymen and eighteen apprentices were at 
work, and Mr Gibb says that some of " the best vessels 
which have sailed from the Firth of Forth for the West 
Indies have been built, as well as some for the Baltic 
trade." Despite this testimonial given to the shipbuilders 
of West Wemyss, the industry did not linger long, and 
the buildings which formed the offices of the shipbuilders 
were appropriated for workshops connected with the 
colliery and salt industries. 

The Salt Works. 

Salt was manufactured at West Wemyss in the four- 
teenth century. In 1790 there were as many as seven 
saltpans in operation ; but in 1 836 there was only one 
pan in use. In 1836, 1837, and 1838 the annual average 
of salt made was 6208 bushels, representing a value of 
470. In 1818, 1819, and 1820 the annual average 


quantity of salt made at West Wemyss and Methil was 
50,400 bushels. In 1814 the customs dues on salt exported 
from Methil harbour alone amounted to nearly 10,000. 
Mr M'Lauchlan says : " The salt made at Wemyss is 
excellent, and finds a ready market." The salt was all 
that Mr M'Lauchlan claimed for it ; but the abolition of 
the tax and changes in the mode of manufacture of salt 
brought about a competition which ended in the closing 
of the works at West Wemyss, and for many years the 
bucket pat has been an institution known only to the 
older residents. 

Coaltown of Wemyss. 

The old red-roofed village of the Coaltown of Wemyss, 
which lies about a mile to the north of West Wemyss, has 
recently been surrounded by modern houses, and the popu- 
lation has been added to considerably. In 1891 the 
population was 381 ; in 1901 it was 731. The old school- 
room has been converted into a reading room, and through 
the kindness of Mr Wemyss and Lady Eva Wemyss a 
bowling green was opened upwards of a year ago. During 
the summer and autumn months the miners spend a good 
deal of time on the bowling green, and in the long winter 
months the reading room is an attraction for old and 
young in the village. 

A Peep at the Parish in 1790 and 1838. 

Writing in 1790 and 1838 the ministers of the parish 
give us some interesting glimpses at the institutions and 
customs of other days. Mr Gibb tells us, for instance, 
that, with the exception of a brewer and a wood merchant, 
there were no merchants in the parish. Some persons, he 
says, sold a small quantity of necessary articles. Hawkers 
came from Kirkcaldy and sold at a cheaper rate, however, 


and the poor vendors of the "necessary articles" in 
Wemyss met with little or no encouragement. Beef was 
then. 4d to 5|d per lb., and eggs sold at from 3d to 5d per 
dozen. But really things required to be cheap. Day 
labourers only earned Is 2d per day from March to 
October, and Is for the rest of the year, while masons 
were paid Is Sd and wrights Is 6d. Yet Mr Gibb con- 
cludes his report with these words: "The people in 
genera] are regular in their attendance upon public wor- 
ship, and apparently contented with their situations." 
He also gives us a peep at how the poor in these days 
were maintained. He tells us that 39 poor people re- 
ceived from Is to 2s 6d per month, while others were 
made the recipients of an occasional gift of 5s. The total 
raised for the poor was from 50 to 60. The money 
came from weekly collections at the church, the interest 
of 100, and the dues of the mort-cloth. In 1833 General 
Wemyss contributed 60 towards the poor fund, and with 
church and other collections the total was raised to 
120 Us 3|d. Of this total 101 9s was spent. 

Mr Gibb complains bitterly of the want of a post-office 
in 1790. In 1838 there was still no post-office in the 
parish, but Mr M'Lachlan seems to think that the want 
was not then felt, because there " was a runner or post-boy 
from Kirkcaldy to Leven every morning and again from 
Leven to Kirkcaldy in the afternoon." In a chapter on 
the "Habits and Character of the People," Mr M'Lachlan 
concludes thus: "The people as a body have long been 
distinguished for their quietness and general good conduct, 
and may justly be said to be an industrious, contented, 
decent, and church-going population." 



The Catechist of Wemyss Parish. 

In 1705 the Earl of Cromartie made arrangements 
with sculptors to erect life-sized effigies of the late Countess 
of Wemyss. It was found, however, that the burial 
ground at Wemyss did not admit of a tomb being erected, 
and in place of the proposed monument the Earl, as a 
token of affection and honour to her memory, mortified to 
the church of Wemyss the annual sum of one hundred 
merks Scots to found a salary for a catechist to instruct 
the miners and salters of Wemyss in the method of cate- 
chising in their families. There was no catechising for a 
period of years in the eighteenth century, and the capital 
increased to such an extent that the annual payment is 
now 64 14s. By the death of Mr Thomson, the minister 
of the church of West Wemyss, the post of catechist is at 
present vacant. 


In the parish of Wemyss educational progress in the 
past quarter of a century has kept pace with the industrial 
changes. Writing on the " Educational State of the 
Parish " in 1790, the Rev. G. Gibb says :- 

" The schoolmaster's salary in the Parish School at East 
Wemyss is 6 13s 4d. The number of scholars in winter is about 
60 and in summer 40. The fees per quarter are, for English, Is 2d ; 
English and writing, Is 6d ; arithmetic, 2s ; Latin, 2s 6d ; book- 
keeping and navigation, a guinea each. As precentor and session 
clerk he has yearly 2 10s, and 12s 6d every time the Lord's 
Supper is dispensed ; for each marriage 2s 3d, and each baptism 
lOd, for parochial certificates a guinea a year." 

The statistics anent the attendance cast some light on 
the customs of the times. The attendance in the winter 
was 60 and in summer it was 40, and from this it may be 
inferred that a considerable number of the children were 
taken from the school in the summer months. 

The next authentic report on education in Wemyss is 
from the pen of the Rev. John M'Lauchlan, in 1838. 
The parish made enormous strides between 1790 and 1838. 
The population had increased from 3050 to 5215, and Mr 
M'Lauchlan tells us that in addition to the parish school 
at East Wemyss there were six other schools. The 
teacher, who was a licentiate of the church, had a maxi- 
mum salary of 34 4s 4|d a year, and 1 15s 7|d "for 
the want of the legal quantity of garden ground." He 
was also session clerk, the perquisites of which averaged 
20 a year. The school fees amounted to 25. Mr 
M'Lauchlan proceeds : 


" All the common branches are taught here, as also Latin, 
French, and mathematics. There are six other schools in the 
parish, all endowed except the school at Kirkland, which is 
partially endowed, as the company, besides the school fees, gives 
30 a year by way of salary. Nearly 800 young persons are 
receiving instruction in various branches of education ; and if there 
are any in the parish under 15 years of age or above 10 who cannot 
read, the fault lies with the parents. There is an educational 
machinery in motion which is not surpassed in any parish ; and all 
the teachers, seven in number, are distinguished for their zeal and 
efficiency, and diligence and success." 

The zeal and diligence of the teachers were not ap- 
preciated to the extent which they might have been, and 
in 1840 we find Mr Andrew Hutton, the teacher of East 
Wemyss, giving evidence as follows before the Parlia- 
mentary Commission appointed to enquire into child 
labour in mines : 

"The fee is 4d a week for reading, writing, and arithmetic; 
but very few go the length of the arithmetic, and many not more 
than reading. . . . They are taken down the pit early and 
don't return to school." 

Mr Thomas Eyewater, the manager of Wemyss colliery, 
explained what going down the pit " early " meant. Mr 
Eyewater says : " By a rule of this colliery no boy should 
be taken below until he is ten years old. On special 
occasions this rule is relaxed by the men themselves." 
Mr Eyewater explained that the education of boys who 
were dragged down the mines at a very early date was 
often neglected. By the Act of 1842 boys were prevented 
from entering the mines before they had reached ten years 
of age, and from the date of the passing of the Act at- 
tendance began to improve. Mr Eyewater's evidence in 
1844 before the Commissioners appointed to inquire into 
the working of the statute showed progress. He then 


stated that the school fees exacted at the pay table were 
compulsory on all who worked, with the exception of the 
men who resided in West Wemyss, where the authority 
of the school was divided. Captain Wemyss provided all 
books, &c., for the use of the schools. " We have," he 
said, " well-trained masters and a sewing school for girls." 
The improvement here indicated was fully maintained 
during the fifties and the sixties, and in 1873, when the 
School Board came into existence, Wemyss parish was well 
off for schools, and what is more, the schools were being 
taken advantage of to a really gratifying extent. Here is 
a notice showing the names of the respective schools, the 
teaching staff and the attendance : 


Or I in I.I,. 

Parish School, East Wemyss, - - 1 male, 1 female, 142 

F.C. School, ,, ,, - - 1 male, 1 female, 110 

Madras School, Buckhaven, - - 1 male, 1 female, 250 

Links School, ,, - - 1 male, 1 female, 174 

West Wemyss Colliery School, - 1 male, 130 

Coaltown Colliery School, - - 1 male, 94 
Buckhaven (Miss Mitchell's Private 

School), - - - - 1 female 80 

Crossroads, Kirkland Public School, 1 male, 1 female, 250 

Totals, 13 1230 

Table showing the scholars, the teaching staff, and the 
number of pupils in attendance to-day : 



Buckhaven Higher Grade School, - 27 1069 

Methil Public School, ... 21 876 

Wemyss Public School, ... 14 618 

Crossroads Public School, 10 511 

Coaltown Public School, 5 255 

Dorothy Public School, - 6 231 

Totals, .... 83 3560 


The present Buckhaven Higher Grade School is now 
what was formerly known as the Madras School, and was, 
extended first, in 1875 at a cost of 840, in 1882 at a cost 
of 350, in 1885 at a cost of 700, and again in 1892 at a 
cost of 2400. The school was the first in Scotland to be 
recognised as a Higher Grade Public School. The school 
originally took the name " Madras " because it partici- 
pated in the Madras scholarships founded by the late Dr 
Andrew Bell, of St Andrews and Madras. Mr Ross, the 
headmaster of the school, began life as a pupil teacher at 
Dysart. He studied in Edinburgh, and in 1886 was 
doing duty as classical master in one of the academies of 
the " Second City " when appointed to Buckhaven. The 
Links School of Buckhaven was opened in 1810 as an 
adventure school by the Associate congregation. The 
Kirkland Crossroads School was built in 1875. The sum 
expended on the original building was 840. An exten- 
sion was made in 1887 at a cost of 1200. Mr George 


Masterton has occupied the position of headmaster since the 
school was opened. East Wemyss Public School, the infant 
department of which is the old parish school, was extended 
in 1890 at a cost of 800. . The present senior department 
was erected in 1901, 2600 being expended. Mr James 
Cassells, the headmaster, is a Wemyss man. He received 
his early education at West Wemyss and Dysart, and was 
appointed headmaster at Coal town in 1878. He was 
transferred to East Wemyss in 1903. Methil Public 
School was erected in 1893, at a cost of 2700. The 
building was extended in 1902, when nearly 5000 was 
spent. Mr William Ness, who has been headmaster since 
the school was opened, fulfilled the duties of an assistant 
in Buckhaven Higher Grade School before his appointment 
to Methil. The school at Coaltown of Wemyss and the 


Dorothy School at West Wemyss were erected in 1896, 
and cost together 7600. Mr David Wallace has occupied 
the post of headmaster since 1897, when he was trans- 
ferred from West Wemyss. He was succeeded at West 
Wemyss by Mr David H. Lindsay, who had held an 
assistantship in Buckhaven Higher Grade School for 
several years. The building of new schools in every part 
of the parish has thrown a great amount of work on the 
respective School Boards. The Boards have been made 
up of men who have been fired with zeal for the cause, 
however, and the schools of Wemyss parish to-day will 
compare favourably with the schools of any parish in 
Scotland. The following is a list of the gentlemen who 
have occupied the chair since the passing of the Education 
Act : 

Joseph Budge, 1873 to 1879 ; James W. Johnston, 1879 to 1882 ; 
R. G. E. Wemyss, 1882 to 1891 ; Rev. William M'Ghie, 1891 to 
1894 ; James W. Johnston, 1894 to 1905. 

Mr A. Watson Taylor, who was trained in Dundee, 
was appointed clerk in 1899. Mr Taylor is also clerk to 
the Parish Council. 

(iolf in the Parish. 

Puffing pits, large redd bings, and railway sidings 
operated sadly against the amenties of the historic golf 
links by the " Glass Cove" and " Lady Rock," at Wemyss, 
and for some years after the opening of the Michael pits 
golf ceased to be one of the popular games of either East 
or West Wemyss. The first competition held under the 
auspices of the Wemyss Golf Club took place in March 
1858, when the secretary records that "splendid shots 
were made from the tee over the Glass Cove." It would 
be a mistake for people to run away with the idea that 


golf only began to be played at Wemyss when the club 
was formed in the fifties. Queen Mary could wield a golf 
club as well as fly a hawk, and it is quite within the 
bounds of possibility that she and Darnley, who, as 
Melville tells us, was "even and brent up. weill instructed 
in his youth in all honest and comely exercises," may have 
tried their skill in driving over the red rocks which made 
the Wemyss course one of the most sporting of courses. 
Whether Mary and Darnley played golf by the Glass 
Cove and Wemyss Castle or not, certain it is that golf was 
played at Wemyss at an early period. John Grub, the 
author of " Orations on Various Select Subjects," was 
appointed schoolmaster of the parish of Wemyss in 1748. 
On the year of his appointment he was struck on the 
knee by a golf ball. The injury brought on a white 
swelling. The schoolmaster was confined to the house for 
two years, and he ultimately lost the injured limb. 

The first captain of the club of the fifties was Mr 
Wemyss of Wemyss Castle, and his lady was the first 
patroness. Mr Wemyss was succeeded by. among others, 
Mr R. G. E. Wemyss, Mr Oswald of Dunnikier, Mr Cath- 
cart of Pitcairlie, Rev. A. B. Campbell of Markinch, 
Colonel Mai tl and Dougall, Allan Stewart of Balgonie, 
Colonel Johnston, and old Tom Morris. The following 
extract from the minutes is particularly interesting : 

"11 Nov. 1863. After the day's play, Mr Wemyss, captain of 
the club, entertained the members to dinner, after which Mr 
Wemyss proposed that Mr Thomas Morris, champion, be made an 
honorary member of the club, which was carried by acclamation." 

The club played a great many matches in the sixties, 
seventies, and eighties, and pulled off such a number of 
successes that it held a place of honour among the clubs of 
the " Kingdom." 


In the summer of 1905 a meeting was held and it was 
agreed to resuscitate the club and to re-open the old course. 
The following office-bearers were appointed : President, 
Mr Michael Wemyss ; vice-president, Mr G. F. Under- 
wood ; secretary, Mr J. C. Davis ; treasurer, Mr J. A. 


The monks of Dunferruline commenced to work coal 
under the shadow of the ancient abbey, on the lands of 
Pittencrieff, in 1291. Twenty years before this, Sir John 
of Methil and Wemyss was taking a practical interest in 
ecclesiastical affairs in Dunfermline. Sir John's successors 
kept up friendly relations with the abbot and the monks 
of Dunfermline, and at Pittencrieff they doubtless learned 
enough of the art of coal-getting and the value of coals to 
induce them to open up " heughs " in the seams which 
cropped out on the banks of the Forth at West Wemyss, 
and ultimately at Methil. Coal heughs certainly existed 
at Wemyss early 

In the Fifteenth Century. 

In an agreement entered into between David Wemyss 
of Wemyss and Robert Livingston of Drumry in 1429, in 
connection with the estates of East Wemyss and West 
Wemyss, it was specifically set forth that they mutually 
granted to each other the freedom of working coal. A 
clause was also inserted anent the manufacture of salt. 
In 1475 a dispute arose between Sir John of Wemyss and 
Sir Michael Livingston, the vicar of Wemyss, anent the 
teinds. The questions raised were fought out in the 
ecclesiastical courts of St Andrews, and ultimately the 
Assessor pronounced decree setting forth that the teind 
coals of the coal-heughs of the Laird of Wemyss shall be 
levied upon the multure of the coal-heughs from which 
they were led to the sea, and as for the teind of salt, the 
vicar was to have the true tenth of each pan in the week 


paid wholly to him at the pan. At this time there were 
as many as six salt pans in operation, and one coal-heugh 
at work at West Wenayss, so that the vicar's income from 
salt and coal must have been very considerable. 

Old Coal Taxes. 

David Wemyss of that ilk (1572-1597), had the dis- 
tinction of being called before the Privy Council in 1573 
in connection with his salt pans at West Wemyss. The 
Laird of Wemyss had five pans at work and did a con- 
siderable export trade. Salt was scarce in this country, 
and the Council decreed that the export trade should be 
restricted until our own country was supplied. To make 
sure chat the Laird of Wemyss would observe the 
restrictive conditions, he was called before the Council at 
Holyrood. In the closing days of the sixteenth century it 
appears to have been the custom of the Privy Council to 
close all seaports for general merchandise where no custom 
officer was located. There was no officer at West Wemyss, 
and the port in Sir John Wemyss' time, because of ship- 
owners defrauding the Customs, was closed as a seaport 
for general merchandise, coal and salt excepted. 

John first Earl of Wemyss (1622-1649) did a great 
deal for the development of the minerals and the salt 
industry at West Wemyss. It was in his time that the 
Privy Council decreed that home vessels should be served 
with coal at the ports on the Forth before foreign craft. 
This condition was enforced because of an alleged scarcity 
of fuel in this country. The Earl fought the Privy 
Council for freedom to trade in such a way as would 
enable him to develop the trade and keep his workpeople 
fully employed. He brought a mining engineer from 
England to test the value of his coalfields, and he was the 


first to discover coal at Lochgelly. He claimed to have as 
many as twelve seams of coals in the lands of West 
Wemyss, and a glimpse at life in the olden time is given 
by the words in which the discovery of the Bowhousc 
coal is recorded. A coal called the "Bowhouse" was 
found " be-east the Daubbue Creeaydge att the pleay 
field quher the witches is burnt." David the second Earl 
of Wemyss did much for the development of the coal works 
at Wemyss, and, indeed, of Scotland. Parliament in 1656 
imposed a tax of 4s per ton on coals exported in home 
vessels and 8s per ton on coals sent abroad in foreign 
ships. The tax proved more than the coalowners in Scot- 
land could bear, and Lord Wemyss went to London and 
presented a petition to the Protector, pointing out that 
the impost was ruining the coalmasters and preventing the 
20,000 people employed at the coal works on the banks of 
the Forth from earning an adequate living. The Govern- 
me'nt of the Commonwealth reduced the tax on home 
boats from 4s to 2s 6d per ton and on foreign from 8s to 

Earl David opened up the coal works at Methil. In 
the document which the Earl left bearing on the coal- 
workings he states, " It is well known that I leave many 
good colles at West Wemyss." David the third Earl of 
Wemyss was in 1689 a representative of the coalowners 
who appealed for a remission of the tax on coals, and 
James the fourth Earl had a good deal to do with the 
same subject. The Hon. James Wemyss (1756-1786), like 
his predecessors, did much to improve his coal and salt 
works. A very extensive hold of the coal which cropped 
out on the shore between the Chapel Gardens and Wemyss 
harbour was secured by the running of a day level from 


high-water mark. The breast of coal in the mine measured 
three hundred yards at some places, and the workings ex- 
tended to East Newton, where the coal "nipped out." 
This mine was followed by a shaft, the workings being 
drained by a windmill and a horse gin. Operations did not 
proceed far, however, when the sea burst in and work had 
to be abandoned. 

A Great Fitting. 

Nos. 2 and 3 shafts followed, and then came one of 
the greatest fittings of the times, No. 4 pit. It was sunk 
on the shore a little to the east of the present gas works. 
The pit was 84 fathoms in depth, and was drained by an 
engine of 30 horse power, but ultimately this was increased 
to 90 horse power, the volume of water haying been 
largely added to through a flow from a dam in the old 

Writing in 1790, Mr Gibb, the minister of the parish, 
states that there is shipped at West Wemyss annually 
about 6000 tons of coal, mostly for Amsterdam, Hamburg 
and Middlesburg. The light on the Island of May was 
at this time supplied with coal from West Wemyss. 
Floods and fires were among the difficulties experienced in 
connection with the Engine pit, and in 1824 No. 7 pit, 
which was afterwards known as the Victoria, was sunk. 
As the dook workings of the Victoria began to spread 
under the sea, the water increased enormously, and Mr 
David Landale, the mining engineer at the colliery, writ- 
ing in 1835, tells us that there were as many as four steam 
engines on the fitting, of the united power of 172 horses, 
which was nearly a horse-power to every ton of coals 
raised. At this time the workings under the sea gave out 
large quantities of hydrogen gas, and Mr Landale found 



that the only remedy was to put a bore at repeated inter- 
vals through the roof coal, and ignite the gas at the mouth 
of the hole. Mr Landale gives us the following glimpse at 
the workings in the early days of the Victoria : 

"There is a level tramway every third room or drift, upon 
which the trains are drawn from the inclined plane to the colliers. 
The colliers for two rooms above these roads slide their coals down 
the steep downsets, and those one room down hand them up. 
Every three men have a boy or a girl for this purpose." 

In 1841. 

In his evidence given in 1841 before the Royal Com- 
mission appointed to inquire into the employment of 
women and children in mines, Mr Thomas Eyewater, the 
manager of the colliery, stated that there were employed 
above and below ground at Wemyss colliery 370 persons. 
Of the 269 people working below ground 25 were females, 
and of the boys 25 were under 13 years of age. Mr Bye- 
water continues : 

"Our hours of employment are nominally 12, but two hours 
being allowed for breakfast and dinner, 10 hours are the time the 
men and others actually work. Children remain below as long as 
the adults ; but as respects young colliers they work just according 
to their ability. By the practice of the colliery each adult collier is 
entitled to send to bank a specified quantity as his day's work, and 
whatever a man's strength might be, his fellow-workmen would 
object to his increasing it. But then, as a man is allowed to add a 
quarter to his quantity from the first day he takes a boy down to 
learn him his trade as a collier, he does, in fact, work this ad- 
ditional quantity himself often for months, the boy being incapable 
for a considerable time. 

"A boy under 13 years of age ranks as 'quarter man ;' on 
reaching the age of 13 he is reckoned as ' half man ; ' at 16 rises to 
a ' three-quarter man ; ' and at 17 takes his place as a ' full man.' 
These regulations were formed by the colliers themselves, and 
acquiesced in by the proprietor. By a rule of this colliery, no boy 


should be taken below until he is 10 years old ; on special occasions 
this rule is relaxed, by the men themselves, to meet the wishes of 
men with large families, or to assist the widow of a collier. 

" The colliers' present wage averages from 2s 6d to 3s per day ; 
they have fallen 25 per cent, within the last 12 months, owing to 
reduction in the sale prices of coals, arising from a diminished 
demand. In addition to money wages, a collier (if married) gets a 
free house and garden. He is further permitted to work 5 cwt. of 
coal weekly for his family use, which is sent to the bank without 
charge ; but he loses this advantage if he has less than 10 days' 
work in the fortnight, unless he proves by a certificate from the 
surgeon of the works that sickness or injury sustained at the work 
occasioned his absence. Unmarried colliers receive money in lieu 
of coals. The present rates of wages for smiths are 2s 8d ; masons, 
2s 6d ; carpenters, 2s 8d ; and labourers, Is 8d to 2s per day. 

" The coals are putted by females, and the practice here is to 
contract with a certain number of responsible hands for periods of 
three and six months, leaving these contractors to engage their 

Among the further evidence led at Wemyss was the 
following : 

" Robert Welch, 11 years old, hewer Works with father ; has 
done so one month ; learning to hew coal ; has no disiike to the 
work, only finds it very inconvenient to get porridge down ; has 
been five years at school, and learned to read and write. [Reads 
and writes very well.] Two brothers work below with me 
Alexander, 13, has been two years down, and George, 15, has 
been four years down ; both read and write well. 

"Janet Welch, about 20 years old, putter Wrought below 
nine years ; did bear the coal on back ; ceased to do so six months 
ago. Women who worked in the high seam carried coal till 
masters forbid it two years since ; small hutches could have been 
used, but it was cheaper to carry. I work on the master's account, 
and receive Is a day ; do not like contract work, as the work is 
made o'ersair. [Reads ; ill-informed.] 

"Isabel Hugh, 19 years old, putter Began to work when 13 
years old, below ground ; has wrought in the fields ; likes the 
work well enough ; it is guie sair sweating work. Janet Adarnson 


and I contract for putting on our own account ; the road is 100 
fathoms in length, and we run the races singly ; we frequently run 
50 races between us ; we get 14d per score, and Is per week each 
extra for clearing pit bottom and working the pump ; seldom work 
less than 12 to 14 hours. [Reads and writes.] 

"Elizabeth Lister, 15 years old, putter Has wrought three 
years below ; works from six in the morning to six at night ; works 
for contractors ; has to make 14 races before poriidge-time ; the 
distance is 300 fathoms from incline to pit bottom ; and 14 to 15 
races between porridge and the time we take our pieces of bread ; 
14, 15, and 16 races afterwards; we get lod a day, but only em- 
ployed nine, sometimes ten days in the fortnight. When I wrought 
on day's wages for master, was not so hard worked ; the work is 
more sair, as the men drive us more, for they do the work cheap. 
Many girls have left, not liking to be driven, and gone into the 
fields. [Reads and writes very well ; clever and ready in replies.]" 

From 1870 to the Present Day. 

In 1870 the year the eight hours a day system was 
introduced Mrs Wemyss gave colliery development in 
the. vicinity of Barncraig an impulse by the construction 
of the West Wemyss dock. The dock enabled the man- 
agement of the Wemyss colliery to take full advantage of 
the golden days experienced in the coal trade in 1872-3. 
The opening of the dock was followed by the sinking of 
the Hugo pit, and in 1899 Lochhead pit was sunk and a 
day mine driven through the strata to the Bowhouse coal. 
In 1894 the Wemyss Coal Company, Limited, was formed. 
The directors of the company are : Mr R. G. E. Wemyss 
(chairman), Mr Joseph Budge, Mr John Gemmel, Mr John 
Oswald, Mr W. Nocton, and Mr A. Bowman. Mr V. L. 
Gordon is general manager ; Mr G. F. Underwood, secre- 
tary ; Mr R. Anderson, cashier ; and Mr J. Davis, prin- 
cipal book-keeper. 

In 1898 the chemiss splint coal was struck it a depth 
of 140 fathoms in the Michael pits, which are equi-distant 


between Wemyss Castle and the village of East Wemyss. 
A direct-acting pumping engine capable of raising one 
thousand gallons of water a minute to the surface is at 
work on one of the shafts, and on both pits the coals are 
drawn by handsome coupled engines, the combined output 
reaching as much as 2000 tons a day. The dook in the 
chemiss splint seam dips one foot in three, and has reached a 
point something like three-quarters of a mile under the sea. 
The screening plant for the coals and other fittings are of 
the best make, and through an effective system of lighting 
by electricity work goes on as briskly in the dark mornings 
and on the long dark nights as it does in the sunshine. 
An interesting feature of the Michael pits is the fact that 
all the machinery is founded on the solid rock, and the 
boilers are connected with the chimney- stalk by flues 
driven through the red sandstone. 

In the beginning of 1904 the work of opening up the 
northern section of Wernyss coalfield was commenced at 
Earlseat, near Thornton. The site makes the colliery 
unique in the history of mining, Earlseat is the apex of 
the Wemyss, Dysart, and Balgonie coalfields, and five 
seams of coal converge and crop out within a small area. 
The colliery fittings have been pitched on the apex, and 
as many as five day-mines or "in-going eyes" are being run 
into the Dysart main seam, which is from fifteen to twenty 
feet in thickness. The seams stretch away into the Dysart, 
Wemyss, and Balgonie fields for distances ranging from a 
mile to a mile and a half, and the mines are being run to 
the south, the east, and the west. The stoop-and-room 
system of working is being followed while the work of 
development goes on ; but when the march has been 
reached on the different slopes and a great area of coal 


has been opened up, the management will start to come 
surf ace wards on the long-wall system. In the 500 yards 
which have been run in the Dysart seam in No. 3 mine 
the dip has varied now one foot in six feet, then com- 
paratively flat, and afterwards one in three. This means 
that the Dysart main seam and the seams which lie above 
it have ample covering in the whole of the area being 
operated on, and it is thus computed that the field of Earl- 
seat will yield from 15,000,000 to 20,000,000 tons of coal. 
In the centre of the horseshoe into which the mines are 
being driven a huge platform has been erected on the 
surface, and by an ingenious arrangement the whole of 
the coals drawn from the mines are wheeled on to the one 
platform, and are dealt with by effective cleaning and 
screening plant, which runs the different classes of coals 
into the waggons in the very best of condition. 

Messrs Bowman & Company's lease of the Muiredge 
and Cameron fields expired on 1st August 1905, and on 
that date Messrs Bowman & Co.'s pits were taken over by 
the Wemyss Coal Company. One of the greatest features 
of the Wemyss Company's works is the Baum coal washer, 
which has been erected at Denbeath. The washer is capable 
of handling 1000 tons^. of coal a day, and has storage 
accommodation for from 4000 to 5000 tons. Most of the 
trebles, nuts, beans, and peas produced at Wemyss colliery 
are treated by the washer. The huge machine and its 
railway connections cost nearly 40,000. 

Mr Joseph Budge has been factor on Wemyss estate 
since 1870. He has been a member of the Fife County 
Council since tho passing of the Act of 1889, and in this 
connection he has fulfilled the duties of Chairman of the 
Kirkcaldy District Committee with great acceptance for 



two terms. As Convener of the Technical Education 
Committee of the County Council he has done magnificent 
work, and his labours on the School Board of the parish 
of Wemyss have been unceasing. 

From the Earliest Times to the Present Day. 

Michael of Methil, the founder of the Wemyss family, 
flourished during the reign of William the Lion, which 
was from the year 1165 to 1214. Between 1165 and 1905 
we have many generations, extending over a period of 
seven centuries. To the mind of Sir William Fraser, the 
tradition of the Wemyss descent from the ancient Earls 
of Fife was not established, but he concludes a chapter on 
"The Origin of the Family" by telling us that the family 
has one of the " longest and purest of Scottish pedigrees." 
The writer of this little work does not accept Sir William's 
deductions against the Fife descent as absolute, and despite 
all that the learned author says, clings to the tradition 
that the family are descended from the Earls of Fife. 
Writers who do not accept the traditional descent from 
the Fife earls build their theories upon two grounds 
(1) that in the days of Sir John Wemyss of Wemyss the 
Wemyss family did not bear the ensign armorial of the 


Earls of Fife; and (2) that it has not been proved that 
the lands of Muircambus were part of the early possessions 
of the Wemyss's. The first argument does not count for 
much when it is kept in mind that the Earls of Fife 
changed their arms. The second contention is disposed 
of by a case which is reported in the Acta Auditorium, p. 
52, and which came before the Lords Auditors on 17th 
July 1476. The case was one raised at the instance of 
David Bos well of Balmuto, and his son, David Boswell of 
Glasmont, against William Levinstone of Drumry, anent 
the lands of Muircambus. The evidence adduced shows 
without doubt that the lands had been in the hands of the 
Wemyss family when the division took place among the co- 
heiresses in 1342. 

Macduflf was created Earl of Fife by Malcolm Canmore 
in 1057, twelve years before Queen Margaret arrived at 
Queensferry, and was distinguished by many great and 
noble privileges for his valour against the usurper Macbeth, 
and through which Malcolm was restored to the throne of 
his ancestors. Gilimichael Macduff was the fourth in 
descent from the great Macduff. He was a witness to 
several charters by King David I., "The Sair Saint," to 
the monastery of Dunfermline. He was succeeded in the 
earldom by Duncan, his eldest son. Gilimichael's second 
son was Hugo, and to Hugo he gave the lands of Markinch, 
and other lands now the estate of Wemyss. Hugo died 
in 1163, A son of Hugo, who also took the name of 
Hugo, conferred on the canons of St Andrews the church 
of Markinch, with a 'toft and the teinds. The charter was 
witnessed by Richard, the bishop, who died in 1173. Hugo 
had a son whose name was Michael, and Michael was suc- 
ceeded by his son John, who afterwards became Sir John 


of Methil and Wemyss. Sir John lavished many gifts on 
the Church. He granted in 1239 his right to the Church 
of St Mary of Wemyss to the Hospital of Soutra, a small 
religious house on the ridge of the Lammermoors. Sir 
John, who is described by Bower the historian as a brave 
knight, was stricken in years, and was suffering from an 
aguish fever when the Norwegians tried to conquer Scot- 
land. While under the effects of the malady he fell into 
a slumber and had a vivid dream. He thought he stood 
in the north porch of the church at Dunfermline, and there 
a lady of great beauty and royal robes appeared on the 
scene. Sir John begged of the lady to reveal who she 
was, and the visitor from the other world replied : " I 
am Margaret, formerly Queen of Scotland; this is Malcolm, 
my husband, and these are our three sons, kings of this 
realm while in the flesh, with whom I hasten to Largs to 
defend the country and gain a victory over the tyrant 
who strives unjustly to subdue our realm." In response 
to what he considered to be an invitation from the un- 
earthly visitants, Sir John, despite his weakly condition, 
journeyed from Wemyss to Dunfermline. He related his 
dream to the prior, showed his devotion by kissing the 
relics in the church of the saintly Queen, and while thus 
engaged his malady vanished. It was with difficulty he 
could tear himself away from the sacred spot, and while he 
lingered and thought of the days when Queen Margaret 
worshipped in the sacred edifice, a messenger arrived with 
news of the victory gained over the Norwegians at Largs. 

Sir John was on most intimate terms with Malcolm 
Earl of Fife. He was succeeded by Sir Michael Wernyss 
of Wemyss. Sir Michael was in possession of the Wemyss 
estates from 1265 to 1319. He was among the Scottish 


barons who swore fealty to Edward I., and in March 1304, 
when the King made a progress through Fife, he spent a 
night and a day at Wemyss. On King Robert the Bruce 
coming forward in defence of the rights of the people of 
Scotland, Sir Michael joined his standard, with the result 
that Edward issued a mandate commanding that the 
"manor" where the Laird of Wemyss "lay" and his 
other "manors" should be burned and his lands destroyed. 
Sir Michael was succeeded by his son, Sir David Wemyss 
of Wemyss, who was one of the ambassadors sent, after 
the death of Alexander III., to bring home the. Maid of 
Norway. The King of Norway presented Sir David with 
a massive silver basin, which is preserved in the Castle of 
Wemyss to this day. In 1297 he was summoned to attend 
on King Edward in Flanders ; but he does not seem to 
have been happy with the English King, for ac a later 
date he and his wife are referred to as rebels. Sir David 
in certain writs is designated as lord of half of the lands 
of Lochore, and the mill of Lochoreshire was the common 
property of Sir David and Adam de Vallonius. He died 
about 1330. It was under Sir Michael's roof that the 
Regent Moray was seized with the illness which proved 
fatal, and in the stirring times which followed Randolph's 
death, the Laird of Wemyss was among the nobles who 
were made prisoners by the English. Sir Michael died 
somewhere about 1 342, leaving, says Sir William Fraser, 
no surviving male issue, and his large possessions were 
divided among his three daughters, who carried their 
separate portions of their father's estate into the families 
of their respective husbands. The partition of Wemyss- 
shire continued until 1630, when the whole of the lands 
returned to the family by purchase. Sir John Wemyss of 


Reres and Wemyss succeeded in 1372. Sir John is known 
as the patron of Andrew Wyntoun, the well-known author 
of the " Rhyming Chronicle." Wyntoun became prior of 
St Serf's in 1395, and it was at the suggestion of Sir John 
that the author published his " Cronykil of Scotland." 
The Chronicle was issued about 1423 or 1424. 

Sir John Wemyss was succeeded by David Wemyss of 
Methil and Wemyss, who was fully alive to the advan- 
tages of consolidating the Wemyss properties, and it was 
in his time that the distinction of Wemyss into East and 
West Wemyss originated. John Wemyss succeeded his 
father in 1430. About the year 1460 probably at the 
coronation of James III. the Laird of Wemyss was 
raised to the rank of knight. Sir John was succeeded in 
1502 by his son, who died in 1508. David Wemyss came 
next. He was knighted in 1510, and in 1511 he obtained 
the formal erection of the whole of the Wemyss estates 
into a barony, which was called the Barony of Wemyss. 
Sir David accompanied James IV. in his fatal expedition 
against England, and was killed at the battle of Flodden 
on 9th September 1513. David Wemyss, who succeeded 
to the estates in 1513, died in 1544. Then came Sir John 
Wemyss of that ilk, who was a military man. Among 
the many engagements in which the Laird of Wemyss 
took part was the battle of Pinkie, which was fought on 
10th September 1547, and there he was taken prisoner on 
the field. He was soon liberated, and in 1548 he distin- 
guished himself by repulsing a body of English soldiers 
who tried to obtain a footing in Fife by landing at St 
Monans. Sir John was appointed lieutenant of Fife, 
Kinross, and Clackmannan by Queen Mary, and in 1564-5 
the Queen visited Wemyss Castle. Sir John was at the 


battle of Langside in May 1568, and took part in the 
conflict. He died in January 1571. He was succeeded 
by his son, David Wemyss of Wemyss (circa 1572-1597). 
In consequence of the illness of his father, the young 
laird had often to step into the breach and take military 
service. He took part in many of the Border raids in the 
middle of the sixteenth century. He redeemed the lands 
of Lochgelly from Sir William Scott of Balwearie. During 
his lifetime he was compelled to entertain at his castle of 
Wemyss a number of prominent Borderers, who were 
committed to the care of the well-affected barons of the 
realm as pledges for the good behaviour of their kinsmen. 
When James VL was married to Princess Anne of Den- 
mark, the Laird of Wemyss was among those summoned 
to a meeting of the Estates held in Edinburgh in April 
1589. In May of the same year he was appointed con- 
vener of the county of Fife, and the duty of a convener 
of a county was to summon the freeholders of the shire 
for the election of Commissioners to represent them in a 
Parliament to be held on October 2nd. 

In 1596 the Laird of Wemyss was a Member of Parlia- 
ment. On 7th February 1592, the Earl of Huntly, accom- 
panied by a retinue, crossed the Forth at Queensferry and 
arrived at Donibristle in the evening. Shortly after the 
arrival of Huntly, the " Bonnie Earl of Moray " lay bleed- 
ing to death on the rocks in front of Donibristle House. 
The friends of Moray cried to the King for justice against 
Huntly, and an attempt was made to get up a feud 
between the Earls of Athole and Huntly. Although 
David of Wemyss seems to have sympathised with the 
Atholes, Sir William Fraser found no document indicat- 
ing that he had been involved in the skirmishes which 


took place. Sir John Wemyss of Wemyss (1597-1622) 
was knighted about 1594, and in 1595 represented the 
barons of Fife in Parliament along with Sir John Melville 
of Carnbee. His loyalty to King James led to his being 
much trusted by the "Scottish Solomon" and Queen Anne. 
James was always impecunious, and in 1589 the Laird of 
Wemyss was summoned, in his capacity as Commissioner 
to Parliament, to Perth to a Convention to "devise ways 
and means for replenishing the royal exchequer." Sir 
John Wemyss was one of the nobles chosen to convoy the 
royal household to London on James succeeding to the 
English throne. 

Sir John Wemyss of that ilk, the first Earl of Wemyss, 
succeeded in 1622. Sir John was knighted by James VI. 
about 1618. He was one of the Scottish lairds who 
were taken in by the Nova Scotia bubble. Charles I., 
taking special notice of Sir John, passed a signature 
of a Nova Scotia baronetcy in his favour, following up 
the new honour by the statement that it was " a next 
stepp to a further title." After the lands in Nova 
Scotia had been declared to be the property of the 
French Government, Charles, in 1628, "in remembrance 
of the good service done to his Majestie," conferred 
on Sir John the dignity and rank of a Lord of Par- 
liament by the title of Lord Wemyss of Elcho. In 
the Palace of Dunfermline, where Charles I. was born, a 
patent, which had been signed at Holyrood, creating 
Lord Wemyss Earl of Wemyss and Lord Elcho of Methil, 
was presented to his lordship by his Majesty. 

Lord Wemyss was one of the six Lords of Parliament 
who bore the "pale" of crimson velvet above Charles' head 
from Holyrood to the church on coronation clay. When the 


laird of Wemyss and Methil was created Lord Wemyss, 
he promised to try and approve himself worthy of the 
honour to the "utmost of his possibilities," and his lord- 
ship was as good as his word. Although appointed by 
the King a member of the Court of High Commission, 
which had been established by the bishops, he did not 
act upon the Court, and so strong a Presbyterian was he 
that when Charles tried to force Episcopacy on the people 
of Scotland he cast in his lot with the nobles who tried at 
any cost to counteract the measures of Charles. He and 
his son subscribed the Covenant with the rest of the 
nobility in 1638 in Greyfriars Churchyard, and Sir 
William Fraser says they were strong workers in the 
struggle which culminated in the second Reformation. 

Baillie gives us a delightful peep at the character of 
Wemyss. In 1638 he was appointed the King's Commis- 
sioner to the General Assembly. The King intended at 
first to appoint the Earl of Southesk. It transpired that 
Southesk was distrusted by the country. Wemyss fell to 
be next, and, says Baillie, " the modestie and simplicitie 
of the man made him displeasing to none." In the days 
when the breach between the King and the country 
widened, the Earl and Lord Elcho stood fast by their 
Presbyterian faith without wavering, and in 1644 Lord 
Wemyss avowed his adherence to the Solemn League and 

In 1630 Lord Wemyss purchased the lands of East 
Wemyss, and the whole of Wemyss-shire thus became 
once more the property of the Wemyss family. The Earl 
of Wemyss developed the minerals on the estate to an 
enormous extent, and also added to the saltpans of the 
district. The Earl was the first to discover coal at Loch- 
head, near Lochgelly. 


On the death of the Earl of Wetnyss in 1 649 he was suc- 
ceeded by his son, David Lord Elcho, who was born in 1610. 
David had inherited all the patriotism and the business 
capacity of his father. He took an active interest in the 
civil, the military, and ecclesiastical affairs of the country 
during the stirring days between 1649 and 1679. He 
carried out many improvements on his lands, and launched 
many extensive schemes of mineral development. Through 
the creation of his father as the Earl of Wemyss, David 
became Lord Elcho. He supported his father in his 
adherence to the Covenanting cause, which brought the 
second Reformation in its train, and the subsequent 
rupture with Charles I. At the General Assembly in 
Glasgow in 1638 he opposed the bishops and all their 
works, and in the following year accompanied Montrose 
and Leslie in the north of Scotland when they took the 
field against Huntly. He accompanied the Scottish army 
into England in 1640, and was absent from Wemyss for a 
whole year. He took part in many Covenanting struggles, 
and had the honour of being mentioned in many of Crom- 
well's dispatches. 

He was a member of the Parliament which sat at 
Edinburgh in the autumn of 1641, under the presidency 
of Charles I., was a member of the General Assembly of 
1643, and with his father protested against the translation 
of George Gillespie from Wemyss to Edinburgh. Lord 
Elcho experienced a good deal of treachery as a com- 
mander in the Highlands in 1644 and 1645, and this led 
to defeats. In 1648 he was appointed by the Committee 
of Estates to his former command of colonel of one of the 
regiments of infantry to be raised by the county of Fife. 
Lord Elcho cast in his lot with " the honest party " rather 
than with the " politic-Presbyterian party," and he did not 


take part in the expedition which sustained a terrible 
check by Cromwell at Preston. Indeed, Lord Elcho was 
one of the deputation sent by the "honest party" to 
Berwick, in response to an offer from Cromwell to accept 
the assistance of himself and his army against their 
opponents. In a letter, Cromwell says : 

"I must be bold to testify for that noble lord (the Marquis of 
Argyll), the Lord Elcho, and the other gentlemen with him, tha 
I have found nothing in them other than what becomes Christians 
and men of honour." 

In the stirring times which followed in 1549, the Castle 
of Wemyss was more than once the scene of rejoicing and 
of mourning. Jean Wemyss, Lord Elcho's eldest daughter, 
was in April married to the Earl of Angus, arid in August 
Elcho's sister, Lady Jean Wemyss, was married to her 
second husband, the Hon. Harry Maule. On the 10th 
November Lady Elcho died, and on the day of his wife's 
funeral Lord Elcho was mourning the death of his father, 
John first Earl of Wemyss. David Lord Elcho now suc- 
ceeded as second Earl of Wemyss He married Lady 
Helenor Fleming, eldest daughter of the Earl of Wigton, 
as his second wife, but she only lived two years. 

Charles II. visited Wemyss Castle on 20th July 1650, 
and having afterwards found his way to Edinburgh and 
Leith, he proceeded to Dunfermline. In the ancient 
city he was met by the Earl of Wemyss and Mr George 
Winram, the minister of Liberton, as representatives of 
the Kirk Commission and the Committee of Estates. 
They intimated to the King that, as he had refused to 
sign the declaration renouncing popery and prelacy, they 
could neither own him nor his cause. After certain altera- 
tions had been made, the King signed the document the 


following day, and the document became what is known 
in history as the " Dunfermline Declaration." 

The King fell sadly from the faith implied in the 
Declaration, and was really unworthy of the fidelity shown 
him. Charles was crowned at Scone on 1st January 1651. 
The Earl of Wemyss was present, and in making a pil- 
grimage through Fife in February the King visited 
Wemyss Castle and passed a night with Earl David. 
When Burntisland fell into the hands of Cromwell's army, 
Wemyss Castle was visited and despoiled of its arms and 
artillery. Earl David ultimately made hearty recognition 
of the Government of Cromwell, and during the ascend- 
ancy of the Commonwealth he enjoyed a season of quiet 
and repose. 

On 23rd December 1652 the Earl of Wemyss was 
married to Lady Margaret Leslie, the second daughter of 
the Earl of Rothes. Lady Margaret's first husband was 
Lord Balgonie, and her second husband was the second 
Earl of Buccleuch. The Earl of Wemyss was her third 
husband. Earl David attended the first Parliament of 
Charles II. at Edinburgh, on 1st January 1661. In 
May 1662 Parliament assigned to Earl David and the 
Earl of Kellie the task of bringing in the bishops. Arch- 
bishop Sharpe was one of the bishops consecrated, and in 
1664 Earl David was summoned by Sharpe to take part in 
the visitation of the University of St Andrews. The visit 
was the commencement of a friendship between the Arch- 
bishop and the Earl which resulted in the erection of 
Methil into a free burgh of barony, the building of a 
harbour at Methil, the creation of fairs, and the introduc- 
tion of many changes on the Wemyss lands. 

In many respects the Earl was a wonderful man. 
While devoting much attention to the army and to Parlia- 


mentary questions, he kept a watchful eye on the salt 
works of "Wemyss and his coal output from Methil 
" Happy Mine " the Kirkland and the West Wemyss 
works were a credit to the times in which he lived. The 
close personal supervision he gave to the works is shown 
by the diary he wrote, of an entry from which the follow- 
ing is an extract : 

" I have sett doune the trew condition of all my colles, that my 
posteritie may know how I left them at writting of this att Candils- 
masse, 1677." 

The Earl then proceeds to detail the coalfields of the 
district, including those under the Leven, and he advises 
his successors to acquire certain additional lands, so that 
they might secure the coalfields. Earl David died at 
Wemyss Castle in July 1679. By his first and third 
wives he had a numerous offspring, sixteen children, but 
only one daughter by each of these two wives survived 
him. In his diary the Earl thus notes the death of his 
only son : 

" The Lord giues and He taks all is His. But we being in 
a sade conditione, sailing His holy pleasure, I must shew that 
David Wemyss, my second sone, heir aboue named, being 16 yeirs 
ould and 6 months and 15 days, died att Wemyss, 28th September 
1671, at 5 morning, he being my only sone of 10. He was buried 
10th October 1671 at Wemyss Kirk." 

The Earl settled his titles and estates on his daughter, 
Lady Margaret, his only surviving child by Lady Margaret 
Leslie. Lady Margaret was born at Wemyss on 1st 
January 1659, and on 28th March 1672, when she was 
only 13 years of age, she was married to Sir James 
Wemyss of Burntisland, who afterwards became Lord 
Burntisland. On the death of Earl David in 1676, Lady 
Margaret became the Countess of Wemyss. A petition 


was presented to Charles II. asking that Lord Burntisland 
should be allowed to enjoy the title of Earl of Wemyss ; 
but his lordship died before the King had disposed of the 
application. Lord Burntisland was only 23 years of 
age at his death, and before his remains had been long 
buried his widow had given birth to her fifth child. On 
29th April 1700 the Countess married Lord Tarbet, who 
in 1703 became the Earl of Cromartie. The Countess of 
Wemyss and Cromartie was a lady of marked ability. 
She died on llth March 1705. The Earl wrote a very 
pretty inscription for a tomb. He writes of himself as 
her spouse, and concludes thus : 

Whilst you lived there was not another more blessed than he. 

Living you made him young, but by your death have made him 

He, mourning, has raised this tomb to you as a pledge of love. 

Nor will he restrain the grief due to you. 

The choicest and most delightful of women was born at the 
Castle of Wemyss, 1st January 1659, died llth March 1705 at the 
Palace of Whitehall. The happy mother of the Wemyss family, 
by her son David, of her first husband, James Lord Baron of Burnt- 
island, of the Leven and Northesk families, by her daughters Anna 
and Margaret. 

David, third Earl of Wemyss, succeeded to the estates 
in 1705. He had inherited all the enterprise of his grand- 
father, the great Earl David, and the fifteen years which 
stood between the date of his succession and his death 
were years of activity at the coal pits and the salt works 
of Wemyss and Methil. He tried glassmaking in the 
Glass Cove. In 1706 Lord Wemyss was appointed one of 
the Commissioners for the Treaty of Union between 
England and Scotland, and through the debates in Parlia- 
ment supported the Union. He was one of the sixteen 
peers chosen to represent the nobility of Scotland in the 


Parliament of Westminster. For the discharge of his 
Parliamentary business Earl David removed to London 
and took up his residence in Soho Square. Neither the 
Earl nor his family had much relish for the "rattle and 
the pleasures of London," and he tells us that he visited 
no more than just to " keep up mannerly with the world." 

Earl David first married Lady Anna Douglas, only 
daughter of William first Duke of Queensberry. On the 
13th February 1700, just two years after the marriage, 
Lady Anna's clothes took fire while at her private devo- 
tions, and she sustained such injuries that she died on the 
23rd of the same month. In 1708 the Earl married Miss 
Mary Robinson, eldest daughter of Sir John Robinson of 
Formingwood. His third wife was Elizabeth, daughter of 
Henry Lord Sinclair. Lord Wemyss lost his eldest son, 
a promising young man of 17 years, by death, and he was 
left with only the other son of his first marriage when he 
wedded his third wife. A son and two daughters were 
born of the third marriage. Lord Wemyss died on 15th 
March 1720. 

James the fourth Earl of Wemyss was born on 30th 
August 1699, and was the younger of the two sons of the 
third Earl and Lady Anna Douglas. James was an infant 
of but a few months old when his mother lost her life by 
her clothes taking fire. Andrew Ramsay, the tutor of 
James and his elder brother David, in writing to a friend, 
says : " I have nothing to interrupt me but an hour or 
two attendance at night upon two of the most innocent, 
sweet, sprightly boys I ever knew." Earl James married 
the only daughter and heiress of Colonel Francis Charteris 
of Annisfield and Newmills, in the county of Haddington. 
The Earl devoted a great deal of attention to his own 
estates, and took the active oversight of the coal mining 


and salt manufacturing industries of Methil and Wemyss. 
Colonel Charteris, the Countess' father, died in 1730. In 
1729 he made a disposition of his property in favour of 
his daughter's second son, Francis Wemyss, who was to 
assume the surname of Charteris. Provision was also 
made for the other children, but the stipulations were 
such that the Earl could not assent to them, and he and 
his wife separated. David Lord Elcho, the Earl's eldest 
son, took an active part in the rebellion of 1745. He 
escaped to the Continent after Culloden, but his pro- 
perty was confiscated by the Crown. The Earl died 
on 21st March 1756, and his remains were interred in 
the Church of Wemyss on 8th April. Lord Elcho, 
who remained an exile in France, was attainted by 
Act of Parliament for the part he had played as a 
colonel in the first troop of Horse Guards of Prince 
Charlie, and therefore could neither succeed to the estates 
nor the titles. 

In 1750 the Earl of Wemyss made a settlement by 
which the family estates were on his death to devolve on 
his second son, Francis Wemyss Charteris, if Lord Elcho 
predeceased the Earl. If Lord Elcho survived the Earl, 
the estates of Wemyss were to go to James, the third son. 
James could succeed to the estates but not to the titles. 
Through the eldest son being attainted the titles fell 
dormant, and so continued until the death of Lord Elcho 
in Paris in 1787. 

In consequence of the settlement of Colonel Charteris, 
the Hon. Francis Wemyss assumed the name and arms of 
Charteris, and in 1771 he obtained an Act of Parliament 
authorising him to use and bear the name of Charteris. 
On the death of Lord Elcho he succeeded to the title of 
Earl of Wemyss, and since then the titles and honours 


have remained with the Charteris family on the other side 
of the Forth. 

The Hon. James Wemyss, who succeeded to the 
Wemyss estates on the death of the fourth Earl, was 
born on 23rd February 1726. He chose the navy as a 
profession, and attained the rank of lieutenant at a com- 
paratively early age ; but he soon cut connection with the 
navy and took up a Parliamentary career. At Dysart, 
on 29th August 1757, he married his cousin, Lady Eliza- 
beth Sutherland, the only daughter of William sixteenth 
Earl of Sutherland. In 1762 Mr Wemyss succeeded 
General St Glair as Member of Parliament for the county 
of Fife. In 1768 he was defeated by Colonel Scott, but 
was returned for Sutherlandshire. On the death of 
Colonel Scott in 1775, Mr Wemyss was offered a walk 
over in Fife, but he preferred to sit for the county which 
had stood by him at a time of trial. Mr Wemyss kept a 
watchful eye on his collieries and salt works, and did much 
for the development of the minerals. He died in Edin- 
burgh in May 1786, in the sixty -first year of his age. 

He was succeeded by General William Wemyss, who 
had a distinguished military career. General Wemyss 
was returned to Parliament for the county of Sutherland 
in 1784. In 1787 he vacated his seat and stood for his 
native county. He was opposed by Sir John Henderson 
of Fordell, but was elected by a large majority. Sir John 
protested against the election of General Wemyss on 
account of his holding the office of Deputy- Adjutant- 
General of Scotland, but the protest was not effective. 
The General was re-elected for Fife in 1790, and again 
in 1808. In 1788 he married Frances Erskine, eldest 
daughter of Sir William Erskine of Torrie, Bart. In 1786 
Colonel Wemyss was appointed Deputy- Adjutant-General 


of the Forces in Scotland with the rank of major in the 
army. In 1798 he was promoted to the rank of major- 
general. He added much to the amenities of the estate of 
Wemyss by planting trees. General Wemyss died on 14th 
February 1822 at Wemyss Castle. 

General William Wemyss was succeeded by his eldest 
son, Admiral James Erskine Wemyss, who was born in 
1789. Mr Wemyss joined the Tonnant in 1802, under 
Sir Edward Pellew. Between 1802 and 1809, when he 
sailed in the Culloden, he saw much hard service. On 
12th April 1812 he was advanced to the rank of com- 
mander, and assumed the command of the Pylades. Cap- 
tain Wemyss took an active share in the naval operations 
against Genoa, and when it fell into the hands of the 
British, in April 1814, he received the public thanks of 
Captain Josias Rowley. In the same year he was ap- 
pointed acting captain of the Rainbow. He retired in 
December 1814, continuing to hold his rank, which was 
advanced in 1850 to rear-admiral. 

Shortly after leaving the Rainbow, Admiral Wemyss 
resolved to take up a political career, and in 1820 he was 
chosen as the representative of the county of Fife. He 
represented Fife until 1830, when a vote in favour of the 
Reform Bill cost him his seat. Under the extended 
franchise in 1832, however, Admiral Wemyss was re- 
turned unopposed. In 1835 Colonel Lindsay of Balcarres 
tried to oust him, but was beaten by two to one for his 
pains. The Hon. James Bruce, who afterwards became 
Lord Elgin, next championed the Tory cause ; but he 
sustained even a more crushing defeat than Colonel 
Lindsay. In 1841 Mr Wemyss' seat was supposed to be 
so impregnable that he received no opposition, and he 
retained the seat until 1847, when Parliament was dis- 


solved, and he announced that he would not again seek 

It was in 1822 that Admiral Wemyss succeeded to the 
paternal inheritance of Wemyss. Fourteen years after 
his succession to the barony of Wemyss, he inherited the 
baronies of Torrie and Lundin through his maternal uncle, 
Sir John Drummond Erskine of Torrie. The barony of 
Lundin was afterwards sold by Admiral Wemyss Ad- 
miral Wemyss died at Wemyss Castle on 3rd April 1854. 
James Hay Erskine Wemyss, who was born at Wemyss 
Castle on 27th August 1829, succeeded his father in the 
baronial estates of Wemyss and Torrie on 3rd April 1854. 
On the retirement of Mr John Fergus of Strathore in 
1859, Mr Wemyss came forward as a candidate for the 
county of Fife. He was opposed by his cousin, Lord 
Loughborough, afterwards Lord Rosslyn. The contest is 
spoken of to this day as a keen one. Mr Wemyss polled 
1087 votes and Lord Loughborough 850. Although a 
Whig, Mr Wemyss held advanced views on many ques- 
tions. In recognition of his ancient lineage and his public 
services, Mr Wemyss was in the opening days of 1864 
appointed Lord-Lieutenant of the county, an office which 
had been held by his late father. Unfortunately he did 
not live long to enjoy the honours which were showered 
upon him. In November 1863 Mr Wemyss caught a severe 
cold. The cold settled on his lungs during the winter, 
and on 29th March 1864 he died. He was only 36 years 
of age. Mr Wemyss' remains were brought from London, 
and were laid to rest in the family aisle near the Parish 
Church of East Wemyss. Four years before his death, 
Mr Wemyss had executed a trust-settlement in favour of 
his wife '(who was a daughter of the Hon. John Kennedy 
Erskine of Dun), the Earl of Munster, Sir David Baird of 


Newbyth, Bart., and Mr Robert Cathcart of Pitcairly. 
The chief burden of the trusteeship soon devolved on Mrs 
Wemyss, and she managed the trust in a manner which 
brought nothing but compliments from all who had the 
pleasure of her acquaintance in and outwith the county. 
At the opening of Methil dock in 1887, Mr Wemyss, the 
present laird, said : 

" In 1870 a wet dock was added to the harbour at West Wemyss 
by my mother, Mrs Wemyss, who has been a trustee during my 
minority on the Wemyss estates. Her name, gentlemen, as you 
who are not strangers here to-day know, will in our local records, 
aye, and even outside of them, be handed down to posterity as a 
woman who more than did her duty in that position of life which 
she so judicially and ably adorned." 

Mrs Wemyss died in February 1895, and her remains 
were buried at Wemyss. 

When his father died, in March 1864, Mr Randolph 
Erskine Wemyss, the present laird, was in his sixth year. 
On Mr Wemyss attaining his majority, on llth July 1879, 
a conveyance of the lands, of Wemyss-shire was made by 
Mrs Wemyss and the remaining trustees in his favour, 
and by the authority of the Court of Session he disentailed 
the lands of Torrie, Methil, Buckhaven, and Lochhead. 
Mr Wemyss is a striking personality : a man of impulses, 
who has inherited all the enterprise and the restless energy 
of his ancestor the great Earl David. When in his 'teens 
he gave evidence of boundless activity, and as the years 
pass the same characteristic is exhibited in even a greater 
degree. Before he was of full age and legally entitled to 
act for himself, he had arranged for the carrying through 
of the Thornton-Buckhaven railway, a scheme, involving 
an expenditure of 25,000. In 1883 he purchased the 
Leven dock at a cost of 12,000, and in 1886 had con- 



structed Methil dock and given a much-needed impulse to 
the development of the coalfields of the county of Fife. 
On the Wemyss estate to-day Mr Weunyss is working out 

Milliken] [Kirkcaldy 

R. G. E. Wemyss, Esq. of Wemyss and Torrie. 

a series of schemes. His plans of coal development include 
undertakings which are calculated to raise the annual coal 
output of the Wemyss Coal Company from 700,000 tons 


to 2,000,000 tons a year ; he contemplates a new brick- 
work, has built the new village of Denbeath, and was the 
original promoter of the Kirkcaldy and Leven tramways. 

Representing as he does a family which has one of the 
longest and purest of Scottish pedigrees, and which for 
centuries rendered distinguished services to the State, no 
surprise need be expressed at the fact that Mr Wemyss 
has had ambitions to enter Parliament. He contested 
West Fife in 1889 and 1895, and his defeat on both occa- 
sions was entirely due to the fact that he split with the 
Gladstonian party on the Irish Home Rule problem. Mr 
Wemyss was returned to the Council Board of the burgh 
of Buckhaven, Methil, and Innerleveu in November 1904, 
and on taking his seat as a councillor was elected provost. 
He is a Justice of the Peace for the county, and is the 
representative of the burgh of Buckhaven, Methil, and 
Innerleven at the Fife County Council. 


IN the winter of 1904, Mr R. G. E. Wemyss of Werayss 
Castle launched a scheme for connecting the towns and 
villages in the parishes of Wemyss and Scoonie with the 
burgh of Kirkcaldy by a system of electric tramways. 
Whon the scheme was first mooted, it was intended that 
the line should terminate at the bridge across the river 
Leven, at the western entrance to the burgh of Leven. 
By appeals from the community of Leven, however. Mr 
Wemyss was induced to extend the line to the burgh and 
make the terminus in Durie Street. A Provisional Order 
for the construction of the tramways was given in March 
1905 by a Parliamentary Committee, sitting in Edinburgh, 
and in August of the same year the Wemyss Tramway 
Order Confirmation Act was passed by Parliament. 

When Mr Wemyss was promoting the tramway scheme 
through its initial stages, the Board of Trade laid down as 
a condition of their giving sanction to proceed that a com- 
pany should be formed on an early date. In terms of 
this condition, a company was formed in November, taking 
the name of " The Wemyss and District Tramways Com- 
pany, Limited." The authorised capital of the Company 
is 55,000-9000 6 per cent, cumulative shares of 5 each, 
and 10,000 ordinary shares of 1 each. The Company 
also issued 30,000 of 4| per cent, debentures. The first 
board of directors was : Messrs John Oswald of Dunni- 
kier ; Joseph Budge, Wemyss Castle Office ; Archibald 


Bowman, Buckhaven ; William Shepherd, solicitor and 
bank agent, Leven ; and Stephen Sellon, M.Inst.C.E. 
(managing director). Mr J. Ogilvy Shepherd, Leven, was 
appointed secretary. It was intimated that Mr Wemyss 
would join the board after the line was handed over to 
the Company. Mr Sellon, the managing director, has had 
great experience of tramway work throughout the country, 
and a report by him on the Wemyss project showed a net 
revenue of 5925 per annum after meeting all working 
expenses and a liberal allowance for depreciation. His 
details were as follows :^- 

From the net revenue of 5925 

There falls to be deducted interest on 30,000 4J 
per cent, debenture stock - - 1350 
Dividend on 30,000 preference shares 

at 6 per cent. .... 1800 


Leaving a surplus of 2775 

The Order and Act authorised the construction of a 
line of tramways and tramroads, to be worked on the 
overhead electric trolley system, commencing at the eastern 
terminus of the Kirkcaldy Corporation Tramways at Ross- 
lyn Street, Kirkcaldy, and connected by a physical junction 
with the electric tramways of Kirkcaldy Corporation, and 
running thence eastwards through the parish of Kirkcaldy 
and Dysart and the parishes of Wemyss and Scoonie, and 
serving the villages and towns of West Wemyss, Coaltown 
of Wemyss, East Wemyss, Buckhaven, Links of Buck- 
haven, Denbeath, Methil, Crossroads, Innerleven, and 
Leven, with an optional extension to the burgh of Dysart, 
The track length of the tramways and tramroads, exclud- 
ing Dysart, is about 7| miles, and including the extension 
to Dysart it will measure about 8j miles. Direct running 


powers over the system of the Kirkcaldy Corporation tram- 
ways to the centre of the town were acquired, conform to 
agreement between the Provost, Magistrates, and Coun- 
cillors of the burgh of Kirkcaldy and Mr Wemyss. 

By an agreement entered into between the Wemyss 
Coal Company and the Tramway Company, the Coal 
Company erected and are to maintain an electric power 
station on a piece of ground situated near the village of 
Denbeath and to supply the Company with electric power. 







When Millinery, General Drapery, 
or Clothing is Wanted. 

Always Sterling Value. 

Keen Prices. 
Cash Only. 

HIGH SliKEI(OpposiU Caledonian Hotel), LEVEN 



Notepapers Embossed with Address, 

Plain or in Colour. 
The Most Favourable Terms Existing. 

Samples of Ordinary and High-Class Notepapers on Request. 

JVlaleolm's Stationery Salon 


J. & a. BROWN'S 







Sold in Bottle by nil the 
Local Merchants. 



GflliEDOfllAJi HOTEL, 

1- E V E N . 




Large Room==Dance 50 to 60, 

Retiring Rooms and all Conveniences. 

Posting in all its Branches. 






. . . AND . 




Largest Selection in every Department. 





Member * of * the $ pharmaceutical & Society, 



Headquarters for Photographic Materials. 

Branches Bock place, jYlethil ; and lunDin links. 



. S. Thompson's . 

Cicensei * Restaurant, 









Xigh * 5* ree t * Ccvcn 

(Jfear the Royal Bank). 

For Ladies' and Gentlemen's 
Latest Designs in 

Kigh Grade footwear. 


Art and Science have been com- 
bined in the production of our 
Models, and we offer our Goods 
confident that they will recommend 

Agent in Leven and District for 
the well-known Brands of Boots and 

W," " HAZELWOOD," and " O.K." 
Send your Repairs. 

It gives us pleasure to serve our 
Patrons well. May we also have 
this pleasure with you ? 



All the Best Makes of Shoe Polishes and Creams in Stock. 

Picture ?ost Cards 






eat Ijer arjd of tier Qoods 




Randolph St., Buckhaven. 

Branch Office of the " Leven Advertiser 
and XVemyss Gazette," 

Soli jficial 
yirtifieial - 
Jeeth - - 


Can be Fitted without the Extraction of Roots, 

Perfect Fit and First-Class Workmanship Guaranteed. 
Prices from 1 to 2O Guineas. 

Painless Extractions with Alvatunder, Chloroform, 
or Ethyl Chloride, the Latest and most Perfect 
Anaesthetic for Dental Operations. 

Teeih Filled uiifi Cement, flmalgam, Porcelain, or Gold. 

DUNCAN & Co., 


Consultations Daily, from g a.m. till 8 p.m. 

BuCKHAVEN on Mondays and Saturdays, from 9 a.m. till 8 p.m. 
Thursdays, from 9 a.m. to i p.m. 

Telephone 1 Y S. Established 1855. 



Restaurant and Tea Rooms, 



Excellent Menu. Popular Prices. 

Assorted Boxes of Scones and Cakes, 

By Post, is 4d. 





Famous for Self-Raising Flour. 



Indispensable to Amateur and Professional alike. 





Ordinary Hand-Forged Golfing Irons made absolutely 
Rustproof by Sherardising. Club Heads sent to G. N. can be 
Re-polished and treated by this excellent process, which is 
growing in favour with Golfers daily. 

G. N. is Agent for some of the Best Cycle Makers. 

All Kinds of Accessories always on hand. 


Cbe Heven Advertiser 


Wkmyss Gazette* 

Jdakes a Specialty of - 
Local and District flems. 


To Largo, Lundin Links, and Leven, 
during Months of June, July, and August. 

historical and other Special Jtotes. 




Celebrated -Berkefeld " Process. 




A Trial Respectfully Requested. 

They come as a boon and a blessing to men 
The Pickwick, the Owl, and the Waverley Pen. 










Sold by 
all Stationers. 






Edinburgh Office 34 St Andrew Square, Edinburgh. 

Income 1QO-4 

Premiums (Fire) - 

,, (Accident), 
Interest on Investments 



forty Years' Progress. 


1864, - ^ 100,843 20,000 19 

1884, - - 491,315 287,304 58 

1904, - - 1,415,532 1,847,114 130 

Total Security, 




The Oldest Scottish Insurance Company. 


Head Office==19 George Street, Edinburgh. 


Funds .2,895,260. Claims Paid ^8,000,000. 


Granted with or without Medical Examination, 
on Exceptionally Favourable Terms. 

Perfect Non-Forfeitable System. 
Liberal Surrender Values. 
Policies World-Wide in most cases. 


Ample Security. Moderate Premiums. 

Surveys made Free of Charge. 
xDamage by Lightning Covered. 
Losses -Promptly Settled. 

= Delicious = 
Non=Alcoholic Beverage, 


Manufactured only at